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Posted in Fraud Alerts on 9.12.17
Cyber criminals have stolen 143 million credit records in the recent hacking scandal at the credit bureau, Equifax, and at this point you have to assume that the bad guys already have the highly personal information that they can use to trick you. You need to watch out for the following things:
- Phishing emails that claim to be from Equifax where you can check if your data was compromised
- Phishing emails that claim there is a problem with a credit card, your credit record, or other personal financial information
- Calls from scammers that claim they are from your bank or credit union
- Fraudulent charges on a credit card because your identity was stolen
Best advice? Don’t click on any links or open up any attachments in unsolicited emails, and hang up on phone scammers! If you need information about the status of your bank or credit card account, contact your financial institution directly.
Here are 5 things you can do to prevent identity theft:
- First, sign up for credit monitoring. There are many companies providing this service including Equifax, but you need to know that if you do sign up for Equifax’s free 1-year monitoring service, you will be unable to join any forthcoming lawsuits against the company. Also note that most if not all monitoring services charge a fee, so do your homework before signing up.
- Next freeze your credit files at the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You will have to visit each credit bureau’s website and follow their credit freeze instructions. Again, fees may apply, so do your homework.
- Check your credit reports via the free annualcreditreport.com. You are entitled to 1 free report per year from EACH of the 3 credit bureaus. Best advice? Rotate your requests to download a report every 4 months. Sounds like a lot of work, but your credit history and your identity will thank you for it!
- Check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized activity and report it immediately
- If you believe you may have been the victim of identity theft, visit FTC.gov or FBI.gov for more information or to file a complaint.
Amazon Prime Day Review Scam
Posted in Fraud Alerts on 9.6.17
A new, realistic-looking email phishing scam is targeting Amazon customers.
Cyber criminals are sending mass emails, which appear to come from Amazon, that thank recipients for making purchases on Amazon’s Prime Day in July. The emails provide a link for recipients to visit Amazon website’s to “write a review” to receive a special $50 bonus credit.
However, if users click the link, they are routed to the fraudsters’ clone of the Amazon site where they enter their credentials (i.e., their usernames and passwords) when prompted. The criminal can then gain access to their accounts. Additionally, it is possible that the fake site may install malware on computers or mobile devices being used to access it.
The email is realistic looking – it even contains manual instructions in case one does not want to click the first link. But, following those instructions is not any safer because it also includes a link to a bogus Amazon.com.
If you ever receive an email from Amazon that asks you to take action, it’s safest to ignore any links in the email and instead enter https://www.amazon.com in your web browser. Once you log in, you can access your orders, and communicate with customer service regarding any questions. This ensures you are using the legitimate Amazon website.
Posted in Fraud Alerts on 8.29.17
WASHINGTON, August 28, 2017 — The Internal Revenue Service is warning everyone to avoid a new phishing scheme that impersonates the IRS and the FBI as part of a ransomware scam to take computer data hostage.
This scam email uses the emblems of both the IRS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It tries to entice users to select a “here” link to download a fake FBI questionnaire. Instead, the link downloads a certain type of malware called ransomware that prevents users from accessing data stored on their device unless they pay money to the scammers.
This is a new twist on an old scheme. You must remain vigilant against email scams that try to impersonate the IRS and other agencies that try to lure you into clicking a link or opening an attachment. People with a tax issue won’t get their first contact from the IRS with a threatening email or phone call. Also, please remember that the IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds.
The FBI warns that victims should never pay a ransom.
Paying it further encourages the criminals, and most likely the scammers won’t provide the decryption key even after a ransom is paid. Victims should immediately report any ransomware attempt or attack to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center at fbi.gov.
Spreading Hurricane Harvey Scams
Posted in Fraud Alerts on 8.29.17
Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall, some areas have been hit with more than 20 inches of rain. It’s expected to continue for the next few days and could drop an additional 15 to 25 inches. That means some areas could see as much as 50 inches of rain total.
As you can probably imagine, it’s leaving a path of destruction that will take time and money to clean up. Sadly, scammers are out in full force trying to rip off the good people trying to help.
- Facebook posts targeting victims
There already is a scam targeting victims of this hurricane spreading on social media. The scam post reads, “The National Guard is being deployed to our Texas area. If you find yourself in a state of emergency. Call 1-800-517-39**. Please copy, paste or share!!!!!!” If you see this post do NOT share it! The number does not belong to the National Guard, it’s actually an insurance group. If you are in danger you need to call 911.
- Fake Facebook and Go FundMe Donations
Imagine knowing someone in the path of the storm. You’d be more than willing to reach out and lend them a hand. Unfortunately, scammers try and take advantage of the goodness of people by setting up fake Facebook pages and bogus Go FundMe accounts trying to reel in victims.
They typically will use actual disaster photos from the storm to make them look official. You’ll see emotional pleas from hurricane victims that are not try. Don’t fall for them.
- Scammers cloning Facebook accounts
Cybercriminals will clone Facebook user accounts to ask their friends for money. If you see this from one of your friends, never click a link through Facebook or social media to send them money.
Take the time to personally call them to verify that it’s actually them. Yes, make a phone call.
- Phishing emails
This is an extremely popular technique for cybercriminals. You will most likely see phishing emails claiming to be from pet shelters, a church or another organization trying to raise money for Hurricane Harvey victims.
- Like-farming on Facebook
There are also like-farming scams making the rounds on Facebook. These include photo-shopped images trying to lure users to liking and sharing them. Like-farming is just what it sounds like. Scammers post a story on Facebook for the purpose of cultivating likes and shares.
Based on the way Facebook works, the more likes and shares a post has, the more likely it is to show up in people’s News Feeds. This gives the scammer more viewers for posts that trick people out of information or send them to malicious downloads.
The story they originally post normally has nothing dangerous about it. Only after the post gets a certain number of likes and shares does the scammer edit it and add something malicious.
Know where to donate
The best way to ensure your donation actually goes where you intend is to go through a trusted source. To see a list of charities that have been vetted by Charity Navigator, you can trust the list provided by following this link.
Bogus Fees Scam with Music Application Gift Cards
Posted in Fraud Alerts on 8.8.17
There have been multiple complaints filed with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) claiming online scammers are requiring their victims to pay for bogus fees with music application gift cards. In these cases, fraudsters direct their victims to purchase music application gift cards (i.e. an iTunes gift card) and then reveal the numbers on the back of the card to the fraudster. The fraudster is then able to use the gift cards for their own personal use or sell them to other fraudsters. They will then cut off all communication with the victim or request more gift cards. Music application gift cards are commonly used in fraudulent schemes including auction fraud, employment scams, kidnapping scams, loan fraud, romance scams, ransomware, tax fraud, loan qualification scams and more.
To protect yourself from falling victim, it’s important to understand the signs that you are being approached by a fraudster. In legitimate situations, you will never be required to pay for fees or make other payments with any kind of gift card. Fraudsters usually create a sense of urgency that makes you feel as if you should take action immediately. Before you do, research any information you have on the fraudster, such as phone number or email address. Others may have reported a similar act online. If you know the person is a scammer, hang up immediately. You can also file a complaint with the IC3 at www.ic3.gov.