Scam of the Day

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Scam of the day – March 18, 2023 – Critical Vulnerability Discovered in Android Phones and More Devices

Google security researches recently discovered eighteen significant vulnerabilities in Samsung computer chips used in dozens of Android phones, wearables and cars.  Four of these vulnerabilities in particular would allow a hacker to hack someone’s phone and steal all of the sensitive information in the phone without any interaction with the targeted victim.  All the hacker would need to know is the targeted victim’s cell phone number.

Among the devices affected are:

Mobile devices from Samsung including those in the S22, M33, M13, M12, A71, A33, A21, A13, A12 and A04 series; Mobile devices from Vivo, including those in the S16, S15, S6, X70, X60 and X30 series; Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 series of devices from Google; any wearables that use the Exynos W920 chipset and any cars that use the Exynos Auto T5123 chipset

TIPS

Google has already developed a security update to address the vulnerability impacting its Pixel devices for two of the vulnerabilities . Here is a link to those updates https://source.android.com/docs/security/bulletin/pixel/2023-03-01

However, security patches for other affected devices have not yet been released.  Until security updates are available you can defend against a hacker trying to exploit these vulnerabilities by disabling Wi-Fi calling and Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE).

It is always important to download security updates as soon as they are available for all of the software that you use to protect yourself from being attacked which is why I provide those updates regularly.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and type in your email address on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – March 17, 2023 – Tap and Glue ATM Scam

Clever scam artists, the only criminals we refer to as artists, have recently come up with a new way to steal money from your bank account through ATMs.  The scam starts when you go to insert your card into the slot at an ATM, but are unable to do so which is obviously puzzling.  Fortunately for you, there is a helpful stranger also at the ATM who tells you that he had the same problem, but was able to access the ATM by using the tap function that allows your card to use a radio wave to access your account without having to insert your card into the card reader.  Unfortunately, you later find out that not only did you access your account, but so did the helpful stranger who had earlier plugged the ATM card slot with glue to make it unusable and then used your account to withdraw money because whenever you use the tap feature, the account remains open for more transactions unless you log out.  Many people don’t think of this and merely take their card and their money and leave.

TIPS

The key to avoiding this scam is to make sure whenever you use an ATM that you affirmatively log out of the account before you leave whether you use the tap feature or not.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and type in your email address on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – March 16, 2023 – The Danger of Pirated Oscar Winning Movies

As I have told you many times, scammers constantly take advantage of whatever is of interest to the public and turn it into a scam.  The recent Academy Awards brought a lot of attention  movies such as best picture winning “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “Top Gun: Maverick” and Avatar: The Way of Water.”  Every year there are movie piracy websites that appear to offer free access to pirated downloads of these movies. This year the number of such sites increased by 20%.

Attempting to stream an illegal version of a movie is not only illegal and unethical, but it could also lead to your being scammed out of money.  Many of these scam websites and malicious files require you to take a survey in order to see the free, pirated version of the movie.  These surveys may ask for personal information including credit card information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  In other instances the phishing websites and malicious files will automatically download malware on to your phone or computer.

TIPS

The first and foremost tip is not to use illegal streaming services.  They are illegal and what they are doing is also unethical.  Don’t trust search engine searches to provide you with legitimate websites for streaming services.  A prominent position in a Google or other search engine search only means that the websites appearing high were adept at understanding the algorithms used to position websites.  Never provide a credit card as a means of verification.  It is only a means of payment.

Another red flag that indicates that the website offering to provide a movie for free is a scam is the extension used for the video file.  Common extensions for video files are avi, mkv and mp4. However, malware loaded files often end in .exe so that if you see that extension on the attached file, you know it is a scam.  Finally, as always, you should have unique passwords for all of your online accounts so that in the event that a password on one of your accounts is hacked or otherwise compromised, all of your accounts will not be in jeopardy.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and type in your email address on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – March 15, 2023 – Refunds Being Sent to Investment Strategy Scammers’ Victims

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently settled its lawsuit against Raging Bull.  Raging Bull tricked people into paying for their bogus investment strategies and recommendations and then locked their victims into costly subscription plans that were very difficult to cancel.  Raging Bull falsely claimed that its strategies and recommendations would consistently beat the stock market, all of which was false.

As a part of the settlement, Raging Bull paid 2.4 million dollars to the FTC which is refunding the money by PayPal to victims of the scam.  For more information about the refund program go to the “FTC Scam Refunds” section in the middle of the opening page of http://www.scamicide.com.

TIPS

Never rush into any investment until you have carefully investigated the people selling their investment or system as well as the investment or system itself.  Always be a bit skeptical as to testimonials which should also be carefully investigated before being relied upon.  Before investing with anyone, you should investigate the person offering to sell you the investment with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Central Registration Depository.  This will tell you if the broker is licensed and if there have been disciplinary procedures against him or her.

Remember my motto, “BS – Be skeptical.”  Take with a grain of salt any testimonials and success stories touted by investment promotors.  Scammers often create phony websites with glowing videos and reviews that are totally bogus.

Do a search engine search of the company’s name with the word “scam” or “complaint” and see what comes up.

It is also important to remember that you should never  invest in something that you do not completely understand.  This was a mistake that many of Bernie Madoff’s victims made.    You also may want to check out the SEC’s investor education website at www.investor.gov.  Scammers can be very convincing and it may sound like there is a great opportunity for someone to make some money, but you must be careful that the person making money is not the scam artist taking yours.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive free daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and type your email address on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – March 14, 2023 – March Madness Scams

March Madness starts today and many people in the United States are following intently the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament.   While many of these people are sports fans, merely enjoying the competition, many others bet on the games, largely through office pools where you register online to pick your brackets and win prizes.  In addition, there are companies such as Yahoo Sports, ESPN and others that sponsor competitions for prizes.  Many of the office pools are done through ESPN, CBS or others that allow groups to set up office pools.  Generally, your participation in an office pool begins with an email containing a link for you to click on to in order to register and participate in the competition.  Unfortunately, identity thieves and scammers are sending out phishing emails that appear to be legitimate offers to join your company’s March Madness competition, but the links take you to phony, but legitimate appearing websites that ask you to input personal information used to make you a victim of identity theft.  In other instances, merely by clicking on the link contained in the email you will download malware such as ransomware or keystroke logging malware that can cause major problems.

TIPS

The best way to protect yourself from these types of March Madness scams is to not respond to any emails you receive asking you to join a March Madness pool that comes from a website, group or person with whom you have not dealt in the past.  Generally, if it is an office pool, you will get an email from someone who has operated the pool at your company in the past.  Even if the invitation to join the office March Madness pool appears legitimate, you should not click on the link in the email to join.  Rather type the web address of the sponsor of the tournament directly into your browser to avoid being sent to a phony March Madness website.  Finally, there is no reason for you to provide personal information in order to participate in your office pool so if the website asks for your Social Security number, a credit card number or bank account information, it is a scam.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and type in your email address on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – March 13, 2023- Is the American Community Survey a Scam?

Many people are receiving letters, phone calls and even visits from people representing that they are with the United States Census Bureau taking a survey known as the American Community Survey.  While it is true that the official United States Census is only done once every ten years, the Census Bureau does a limited survey of  3.5 million randomly selected people in all of the states as well as Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico each year.

So how can you tell if you are being contacted and solicited for information by a legitimate census worker or by a scammer merely using the American Community Survey as a ruse to gather personal information from you in order to make you a victim of identity theft?  First of all, the real American Community Survey does not ask for your Social Security number or credit card information.  If you are asked for that information, it is a scam.

TIPS

It is important to note that the Census Bureau will always initially contact you through a snail mail letter informing you that you have been selected to participate in the survey. The letter will also provide you with instructions as to how to complete the survey online.  If you fail to complete the survey online a paper survey will be sent to you after three weeks.  Once the survey has been completed either online or on paper, you may be called on the phone if the Census Bureau needs to clarify any information.  You will not be asked for your Social Security number or any bank or credit card information.

A Census Bureau representative may come to your home to follow up on the survey.  He or she will always have a photo ID with the U.S. Department of Commerce seal and an expiration date.  If you are concerned that the person may be a scammer you can always contact your Census Bureau regional office to confirm that the visit is legitimate.

If you are contacted about participating in the American Community Survey, it is prudent to confirm that you have been selected to participate in the survey.  You can do this by calling your Census Bureau regional office.  Here is a link with the phone numbers for each region. https://www.census.gov/about/regions.html

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and type in your email address on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the Day – March 12, 2023 – Nine Million AT&T Customers Victims of Data Breach

AT&T recently notified nine million of its customers that some of their personal information was exposed when a marketing partner of AT&T was hacked in January.  While the data breach did not include credit card information, Social Security numbers or account passwords, it did include customers names, account numbers, cell phone numbers and email addresses, all of which can be used to target victims of the data breach with spear phishing emails or smishing text messages intended to lure them into identity theft or other scams.

As I have reminded you many times, we are only as safe and secure as the security of the companies, government agencies and websites that have our personal information.  Even if you are extremely diligent in protecting your personal information, you can be in danger of identity theft and scams if your personal information falls into the hands of hackers.

So what can you do to protect yourself from these data breaches that will be occurring?

TIPS

One important lesson is to limit the amount of personal information that you provide to companies and websites whenever possible.  For example, your doctor doesn’t need your Social Security number for his or her records.

You should make sure that you have a unique password for each of your online accounts so that if one of your passwords is compromised in a data breach, all of your accounts will not be in danger.  If your information is compromised in a data breach, you should immediately change the password for that account.

If you have not already done so, set up dual factor authentication for each of you accounts where it is available. This will protect you from having those accounts stolen by someone who may have access to your password.

Freezing your credit is also something everyone should do.  It is free and easy to do.  In addition, it protects you from someone using your identity to obtain loans or make large purchases even if they have your Social Security number.  If you have not already done so, put a credit freeze on your credit reports at all of the major credit reporting agencies.  Here are links to each of them with instructions about how to get a credit freeze:
In this particular case only people who agreed to have their personal information shared with third party vendors were victims of the data breach. Most people don’t even realize when they allow companies to share their information.  If you are an AT&T customer, I suggest that you limit the sharing of your information by AT&T to avoid this kind of a problem in the future.  You can do so here. https://www.att.com/ecpnioptout/InitiateCPNIForm.action

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Scam of the day – March 11, 2023 – Hackers Targeting Gamers

Video games are extremely popular, particularly with teenagers and even younger children and, of course, as I always say, anything popular with people is popular with scammers.  In this case scammers are targeting gamers as a way of getting at their parents’ computers, laptops and phones as well as their parents’ employers as well.

Scammers use a variety of techniques to hack gamers.  In some instances they hide malware in cheat codes, which are used to access hidden features or skip levels.  This malware hidden in the cheat codes can then steal information and data not only from the family computer or laptop used by the gamer, but if the parents are working remotely, can enable the hacker to access the parents’ companies computers unless proper precautions are taken.

A vulnerability in the popular Grand Theft Auto V video game was exploited by hackers to install malware that affected everyone playing the game’s PC version.

TIPS

Parents would be wise to not use the same computer for personal financial matters and business use that their children use for video games.  Also, in order to protect your various online accounts even if a hacker manages to hack your computer, you should make sure you use dual factor authentication on all of your accounts.

Children and adults shouldn’t use debit cards for online purchases.  Your protection from fraudulent use when a hacker hacks into video game accounts and other online accounts and steals your debit card number is far less than the protection you get when you use a debit card.

And, of course, make sure you use security software on all of your devices as well as make sure that you install security updates as soon as they are available.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive free daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and type in your email address on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – March 10, 2023 – Car Sale Scams on eBay

Just as about everything else we do today has migrated online so has buying a used car, however, buying a used car, which is always an activity ripe for scams, is particularly susceptible to scams when you are buying a used car online.  This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider buying a used car online, but it does mean that you have to take precautions to make sure you are not scammed.

One of the first things to check out when you buy a car on eBay or any other online listing site is whether or not the car actually exists and is owned by the person trying to sell it to you.  Scammers often take pictures from real online listings of used cars and put them into phony online ads.  A good way to determine if a listing has been merely copied is to do a reverse image search on Google which will show you if the same car keeps turning up in ads as being available in many different places around the country.

You also should never buy a used car unless you get a chance to actually drive it and have a mechanic check it out for you.  Get a Carfax or similar report on the car which will indicate if there is hidden damage that hasn’t been told to you.  As I have written about many times, water or storm damaged cars often get their titles changed and are sold as if they had no damage.  A Carfax or similar report will reveal such hidden information.

Finally, a good indication that the car sale is a scam is when the seller asks you to pay in gift cards or to wire money outside of eBay’s platform.

TIPS

Whenever you purchase a used car you should always get a full report on its history. The United States Department of Justice operates The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System which provides much information about used cars. The NMVTIS provides a list of various companies such as Carfax that have been approved to provide reliable reports. These companies charge between $2.95 and $12.99 for a report that will provide detailed information on any used car you are considering purchasing.

Whenever you are considering buying a used card you also should ask the seller to provide you with the Vehicle Identification Number  (VIN).   You can then enter that information into the website of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in order to verify that it matches the car the seller indicates he or she is selling and that it is not a stolen car.

Maintain all of your communications and payments on eBay, not only for security purposes, but also to take advantage of eBay’s money-back guarantee. https://www.ebay.com/help/policies/ebay-money-back-guarantee-policy/ebay-money-back-guarantee-policy?id=4210

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Scam of the day – March 9, 2023 – FTC Releases its Top Scams of 2022

Every year the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) releases its list of the biggest scams of the year.  2022 was a banner year for scammers with victims reporting losing 8.8 billion dollars to scams which is a whopping 2.6 billion dollars more than in 2021 and the true amount of money lost to scammers is probably much higher because many people, particularly the elderly, often out of embarrassment, fail to report being scammed.

The most common scam was imposter scams followed by online shopping scams, lottery scams, investment scams, and job opportunity scams.  I have written many times about all of these scams and will continue to do so.

Interestingly scammers used social media most often to contact their victims while people contacted by scammers by phone lost the most money per victim.

TIPS

Imposter scams where you are contacted by someone posing as a government official or a company representative are easy to avoid.  Frankly whenever you are contacted by phone, email, text message, snail mail or social media you can never be sure who is actually contacting you so you should never make a payment or provide personal information in response to such communications unless you have absolutely confirmed that the communication is legitimate.  Also, many of these scams demand payment through gift cards which is a red flag that it is a scam.  No government agency or legitimate company demands payment by gift cards.

When shopping online always confirm that the website is legitimate which you can do through the website whois.com and always use a credit card rather than a debit card for further protection.

All lottery scams ask you to pay income taxes or administrative fees in order to claim your prize while no legitimate lottery does so.

You should never invest in anything unless you truly understand the investment and have investigated the person offering the investment.

Many job scams ask for personal information which you should not provide until you have confirmed that the company is real and confirm with its real HR department that the job offer was legitimate.

For much more detailed information about these and other scams go to the “search for scams” tab at the top of the initial page of Scamicide.com and type in the type of scam about which you want to learn.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive free daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is sign up for free using this link. https://scamicide.com/scam-of-the-day/

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