Aug23

Scam Alert: Scams of the Month for August 2013A Sampling of the Many Current Fraudulent Schemes to Watch Out for

Scam Alert: Scams of the Month for August 2013

Posted: August 23, 2013 by Rachel Shepard

Many consumers take care to avoid any information concerning scams because it makes them uneasy. This isn’t wise, though, because the more you know, the safer you’ll be when scammers try to pull one over on you. Find here some basic details on the latest scams for August 2013 — and there are many — and use this information to protect yourself.

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Jul11

Scam Alert: Jamaican Phone ScamBeware of Unexpected Calls From the Caribbean

Scam Alert: Jamaican Phone Scam

Posted: July 11, 2013 by Rachel Shepard

With so many scammers around the world, it can be difficult to keep track of them all in an effort to avoid becoming their victim. Luckily, organizations such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) are hard at work to provide everyone up-to-date information on the latest scams out there. As evidence of this, recently the BBB reported that the notorious, long-running Jamaican Phone Scam has changed a bit. Consumers need to know what to look for with this particular fraudulent scheme so they won’t end up falling prey to it.

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Apr22

Scam Alert: Bogus Medical Alert SystemsCon Artists Target the Elderly

Scam Alert: Bogus Medical Alert Systems

Posted: April 22, 2013 by Rachel Shepard

They say that there is no honor among thieves, and a new scam making the rounds perfectly demonstrates this. It involves con artists utilizing deception, threats and intimidation tactics to persuade elderly individuals to purchase medical alert systems that they neither have requested nor want, all in an effort to bilk them out of untold amounts of money.

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission, with the help of a U.S district court, was able to shut down one specific criminal operation called Instant Response Systems that was practicing this scam, but other similar operations are undoubtedly still active.

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Mar22

Phishing Scam Alert: Twitter Direct MessagesA New Method of Hijacking Your Personal Information

Phishing Scam Alert: Twitter Direct Messages

Posted: March 22, 2013 by Rachel Shepard

Social media website Twitter is everywhere these days and used by millions of people around the world. Now, in an effort to take advantage of this situation, online criminals have rolled out a new scam, which originates from what is designed to look like a legitimate Twitter account.

With this scam, consumers are generally contacted by email from a bogus Twitter account. The email subject line will say something like “Have you seen this picture of you?” The recipients are invited to click on a link to the image, and once they do that, they are usually taken to a website to “verify the authenticity of the picture.” That’s when the pain starts.

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Feb22

Government-Job ScamsHow to Spot Schemes Offering to Help You Obtain Federal Positions

Government-Job Scams

Posted: February 22, 2013 by Rachel Shepard

As a species, scammers are a nefarious lot. They prey on the unsuspecting and they deviously separate money from those in need. One of the latest schemes that scammers are engaging in involves them offering to assist job searchers in obtaining positions with federal government agencies such as the U.S. Postal Service.

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Aug30

Mortgage Loan Relief ScamsDon't Let Your Dream of Owning a Home Turn Into a Financial Nightmare

Mortgage Loan Relief Scams

Posted: August 30, 2012 by

For many people, owning a home represents the ultimate achievement of the American Dream. And more often than not, this achievement is made possible with the help of a mortgage loan. This type of loan allows an individual to be able to purchase a home when they don’t have the cash on hand to cover the full price of the property.

As with any type of loan, however, with mortgages sometimes borrowers can get a bit in over their heads, and it’s when this happens that people start looking for mortgage relief. Businesses purveying this service generally offer to negotiate with mortgage lenders to modify loans and make them more affordable for borrowers, or take other steps to help people facing difficulties that could ultimately lead to them losing their home.

Although there are certainly legitimate mortgage relief providers out there, unfortunately there are also many mortgage relief scammers lurking about. These operators prey on desperate homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments or facing foreclosure, and they utilize a variety of tricky tactics to make them part with their money while delivering little or no relief in return.

One common and fairly straightforward scam involves the scammer acting as a phony counselor, telling you that if you pay them an upfront fee, they’ll work out a deal with your mortgage lender to reduce your payments or save your home. Once you’ve paid them, they stop returning your phone calls and take off with your money.

The “bait-and-switch” mortgage relief scam is also well established. Here, the scam artist will give you documents they say you need to sign to get another loan to make your mortgage current. Buried in the stack, however, is a document that effectively surrenders the title to your home to the scammer in exchange for a “rescue” loan.

To avoid fraudsters when you are seeking mortgage relief, there are a number of red flags to watch out for. Avoid any business that does any of the following:

  • Guarantees that it will get you a loan modification or stop the foreclosure process — no matter what your circumstances are
  • Tells you not to contact your lender, lawyer or housing counselor
  • Asks for an upfront fee before providing you with any services (unless it’s a lawyer you’ve thoroughly checked out)
  • Tells you to make your mortgage payments directly to it, rather than your lender

Even though valid mortgage relief services exist, to help limit the possibility of falling into a fraudster’s trap, the first thing you should actually do if you’re experiencing mortgage-related difficulties is simply contact your lender right away. You may be able to negotiate a new repayment schedule with them, or perhaps get a loan reinstatement or forbearance.

If you have already attempted to get help from a mortgage relief provider and believe you’ve been the victim of fraud, contact the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov or the Better Business Bureau at BBB.org.

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Aug07

Wire Transfer ScamsWhere Are You Sending Your Money?

Wire Transfer Scams

Posted: August 7, 2012 by Rachel Shepard

How nice is it to enjoy a little TV after a delicious dinner and a hard day’s work? Now imagine you receive an unexpected phone call during the commercial break. It’s from a number you don’t recognize, but you answer it anyway. Someone on the other end begins accusing you of reneging on debts, or tells you a sob story about someone in your family needing money immediately, or informs you that they can provide you with just the help you’ve been looking for if you’ll just provide a small processing fee.

Whatever the line may be, the result tends to be the same: You need to send us money right now if you want to be OK.

What would you do? For many unfortunate victims of wire transfer scams, they send the money. It’s difficult to deal with the sudden pressure, and often aggressive manner, of a surprise caller. You end up trying to solve the problem just to get out of trouble…when you should really ask yourself if the phone call itself is what’s wrong.

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Aug03

Scam Alert: BBB Email ImpostersJust Because an Email Says It Is From a Reputable Source Does Not Make It True

Scam Alert: BBB Email Imposters

Posted: August 3, 2012 by Rachel Shepard

The Better Business Bureau is one of he most trusted consumer groups in the country. When you are in doubt over the reputation of a company anywhere in America, they are one of the easiest places to find out the truth. Unfortunately, that same reputation has led to scam artists actually posing as the BBB.

According to the BBB alert, multiple complaints have been filed over emails sent to a variety of people, including even the BBB itself. These emails have been reported in two forms: one as a follow up to a complaint, the other as a request to update user information using an online form.

In both emails a link appearing to go to a BBB page. However, by hovering the cursor over the hypertext, the actual URL is not the BBB at all, but rather a site containing a virus.

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Jul27

Scam Alert: Phone, Loan and Wire Transfer Scam in IowaIowa Woman Nearly Scammed for Hundreds

Posted: July 27, 2012 by Rachel Shepard

On the border of Iowa and Illinois is the town of Muscatine. A woman in town recently reported a frightening experience in which she narrowly avoided being scammed for hundreds of dollars. Here is the story:

One morning in mid-July, April Garcia received a phone call from an unknown caller. The caller informed her that she was eligible to receive a payday loan of $3,300.

Garcia could not recall having ever applied for the loan.

According to the caller, it would be disbursed to her in monthly installments of $330 a month for the following 12 months.

All she needed to do was wire them $330 for “insurance.”

Garcia was strung along enough to actually wire money to the company. However, when she noticed that the money was being sent to an address in India, she realized she was being duped.

Luckily for Garcia, she had not yet informed the scammers that the money had been sent, allowing her to claim fraud on the transfer and have her money refunded.

Garcia’s case is a fortunate one; most people are unable to see the scam for what it is until it is already too late.

There are a few moments when an informed consumer in Garcia’s situation could have halted the scam before they could be victimized.

  1. The unsolicited phone call: If you are ever offered something over the phone without having opted in, you should be somewhat suspicious.
  2. Approval for a loan or offer that was never applied for: This should be an immediate red flag.
  3. Requiring you to wire money: Never wire funds to any party that you may not know.

In the event that you are contacted by a company similar to the one that contacted April Garcia, you should attempt to find out the name of the caller, who they work for, the address of the business, and any other contact information you can get. You can then relay this information to the Better Business Bureau, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and local law enforcement.

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Jul18

Loan Scam Alert: High-Pressure Phone CallsKeep Your Composure, Keep Your Cash

Loan Scam Alert: High-Pressure Phone Calls

Posted: July 18, 2012 by Rachel Shepard

There have been a spate of reports recently concerning unsolicited phone calls from people claiming to be collecting on a debt. The scammers attempt to scare, pressure, and threaten their victims into making payments on debts they don’t owe or giving away confidential personal information, which can lead to identity theft.

Those contacted by the crooks have been told that they owe some debt that must be paid immediately. The high-pressure situation is made worse when the scammer threatens to “press charges” unless the money is wired quickly; i.e., before the victim can think over the situation.

It is a scary scenario to imagine: After finishing dinner, you ease into your sofa for a bit of television before bed when the phone rings. On the other end is a stranger using obscene language to inform you that you are about to be arrested for not paying back a loan you can’t even remember taking out.

What should you do?

First off: Relax. Getting stressed out and making fast decisions is exactly what scam artists want you to do. Get the contact information of the caller, including whom they work for and the exact details of the amount you are purported to owe. Tell them you will consult your records and call them back.

Next try checking their claims. This means consulting your records to ensure you don’t owe them any money from unpaid loans or whatever they are claiming. Next, do some research on the business they work for. Check BBB.org to see if there are any complaints about them. If it appears they aren’t a legitimate business or if they are trying to make you pay something you don’t owe, you should contact the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and local law enforcement.

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Jul13

Debt Collection Scam Alert: Central Asset BureauBe Wary of Calls From This Company

Posted: July 13, 2012 by Rachel Shepard

A debt collection company based in San Antonio, Texas, has been causing trouble with numerous people in the state. Consumers have reported that they have received phone calls from representatives of the company who claim to be collecting on past debts.

In many cases the debt the company says is owed is nonexistent. However, that has not stopped Central Asset Bureau  from phoning numerous family and friends, workplaces, and other contacts of consumers in order to smear their reputation through erroneous claims.

According to complainants, Central Asset Bureau has given fake addresses to its location and even refused to provide written documentation of the outstanding debts. Both of these actions are illegal under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Stay Safe

The behavior of Central Asset Bureau is common in debt collection scams. The actions are all expressly prohibited by the FDCPA. If you are contacted by Central Asset Bureau, or any other debt collector, you should exercise your rights to ensure they are legitimate and legal.

You have a right, as protected by federal law, to:

  • Receive written documentation of the exact debt owed.
  • Receive valid contact information of the party to which your debt is owed

Furthermore, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors may not:

  • Contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. local time
  • Continue to contact you after they receive written notice to stop
  • Harass you through aggressive, abusive, or obscene language and false threats of lawsuits
  • Reveal debt to anyone other than your spouse or attorney

If you feel that a debt collector has done any of these things, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Better Business Bureau, and local authorities in order to file a complaint or even press charges.

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Jul06

Learn How to Recognize Debt Collection ScamsDon't Let Criminals Trick You

Learn How to Recognize Debt Collection Scams

Posted: July 6, 2012 by Rachel Shepard

Hopefully, you are not one of the thousands of Americans who have been victimized by scam artists posing at debt collectors. These criminals have been known to hound completely innocent people into giving away hundreds, or even thousands, of their hard-earned dollars. With just a few tips, though, you can spot a debt collection scam and protect yourself in the future.

A debt collection scam often occurs when a company, or an individual claiming to represent a company, contacts a person in order to collect on a debt that doesn’t exist. Through scare tactics, aggressive behavior, and confusion, victims are coerced into giving out money.

How would a criminal even find out about your information? Unfortunately, learning a person’s email, phone number, and even bank account or social security number may not be as difficult as you may think. That’s why, even if presented with this information by someone, you should not be willing to trust them.

Here are a few ways to find out if you are being contacted by an authentic debt collector or someone trying to rip you off:

The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act: This is a law meant to protect consumers from debt collection scam artists and legitimate debt collectors using illegal methods to collect on debts. It is because of this law that you will be able to quickly determine of a debt collector is real or not.

If you receive a phone call from someone attempting to collect on a debt:

  1. Require complete identification: Who they are, their company, their phone number and address. Try and contact them there and ask if the person you talked to works for them. Some scams may involve imposters posing as representatives of real companies. Others may say they work for a real-sounding company that doesn’t actually exist. If anyone refuses to give you this information, you can be sure they are not a real, law-abiding debt collector.
  2. Require your debts in writing: This is required by the FDCPA. If anyone refuses, they are not a real debt collector.
  3. Check the business on consumer advocacy sites: Most business can be found on the Better Business Bureau website. Try searching for them to find if there are any alerts currently attached to that business.

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Jun22

Looking for a Summer Job? Be Careful!Job Scams Can Actually End With You Paying Them for Your Work

Posted: June 22, 2012 by Rachel Shepard

With high school and college finished for the year, many students are looking to make an extra buck during vacation. This can be a character, and wallet, building experience, but can also put young workers in a vulnerable position. Situations involving identity theft and the tricking people into paying money are all too common.

Employment scams can occur when jobs, like selling door-to-door for example, ask you for certain payments prior to you starting a job. This can be known as an “advance-fee scam.” While there may some costs for training and other materials, when confronted with this prospect, be sure that the company is reputable first. You can check on their standing with the Better Business Bureau or search the company name online to see if it is associated with any consumer complaints.

Since applying for a job involves divulging your personal information, such as your social security number, contact info, and even bank account numbers, identity theft can be a very real threat. Here are some questions to ask yourself before giving out your personal info that can help you identify illicit employers:

  • Was this job offer unsolicited?
  • Does it not require an application or interview?
  • Is the employer refusing to give you details about their business?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should probably look elsewhere for a job.

Finally, here are a few more red flags: If you can’t find any references for a company’s reputation, if they want you invest in the business or buy costly equipment, if their contact info doesn’t seem quite right, and finally, if the offer is too good to be true. If the pay seems outlandish for the job offer, you should proceed with extreme caution.

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Jun20

The Basics of Spotting a ScamKnow Your Rights

The Basics of Spotting a Scam

Posted: June 20, 2012 by

Especially in times of economic recession, scam artists are everywhere, plying their unsavory trade in an effort to take advantage of innocent people who are dealing with dire financial situations or credit issues and looking for quick solutions to their problems. These scammers often run their nefarious schemes over the phone or, increasingly these days, online. With their professional–sounding style, seemingly solid grasp of sophisticated financial terminology, and often-irresistible offers of loans (student loans, credit card loans, etc.) that can fit the bill for what you need at the time, they can be hard to pass up.

Don’t Be Fooled

However, despite the fact that the scammers can appear to be no different than the many perfectly legitimate entities loaning money to individuals these days, the fact is, they are completely criminal. Once they have lured you in and gotten their hands into your pockets, they can wreak absolute financial havoc.

There are a few telltale signs that you are dealing with a con artist:

  • If someone contacts you with the promise of a loan and asks you to pay some type of advance fee before they deliver your funds.
  • If someone contacting you informs you that you are guaranteed a loan without you needing to meet any requirements.
  • If, as part of the lending process, you are asked to pay an individual, or someone who is not a registered lender in your state.

Knowledge Really Is Power

Scammers know how to get ahold of the names of individuals who are likely candidates for certain types of loans, and once they’ve made contact with those people, can be quite skilled at luring them in. Just being aware that scam artists exist can help prevent you from becoming one of their victims. Stay tuned to our regular scam reports to keep yourself informed and protected from these criminals.

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