Consumers who help AG’s office could get up to $3K

I was just sent a link to this article from my good friend and fellow advocate, Denise Richardson (GiveMeBackMyCredit.com) and I just had to share it with all of you.
To summarize the article, The Indiana AG office wants victims of financial scams to be able to recoup legal costs through a program funded by violators of the state’s consumer protection laws.  Personally, I think this is a GREAT idea.  I know that so many scam victims don’t report the scams and just pay the money to make it go away instead of getting a lawyer to try to fight these cases . . . mostly because they cannot afford to get a lawyer.  This would allow them to get justice without it being an added financial burden on them.
Looks like there are a couple of lawmakers already backing this . . . Senator Richard Bray and State Representative Woody Burton.
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Santa and ID Theft

I just got done reading a blog post called Is Santa A Victim of Identity Theft, and I had to share it with you.  The author makes a good point.

This time of year you see people dressed as Santa every where . . . one person’s identity replicated over and over and then put out into the masses.  In some cases it is easy to see that it is an impostor, but in some cases you cannot really tell from first glance.  And then to add to it there are places that are selling all of the “supplies” so that even more people can assume this identity.  So how do you stop it?  Do you go after the person who it using the false identity?  Do you go after the people selling the identity?

The same thing holds true with actual cases of identity theft, and that is part of the reason that it is a growing problem.

Advice from the BBB

Here is a little clip from a recent BBB newsletter.

The BBB Absolute ‘No’ for December
Every month, the BBB informs the public of an absolute ‘no,’ a fraudulent scheme or offer they should never consider or take part in under any circumstance. The absolute no for December involves online deals that seem too good to be true. In late November, the BBB began receiving complaints against OnSaleFurnitureDepot, an online furniture company which claimed to be operating out of an apartment in Fargo, North Dakota. Consumers reported that the company was offering furniture and swing-sets at heavily discounted prices, but then failed to deliver once payment was received. Also, customers were told they needed to pay for their merchandise Green Dot MoneyPak cards (essentially a money transfer service). Unfortunately, this left customers without any recourse to get their money back. For more information on this situation and BBB tips for shopping safely online, click here.
Moments Like This
This last June, the BBB began receiving complaints against Moments Like This, a bridal service company in Minneapolis. Complaints were from disappointed wedding parties who reported that on their wedding day they either hadn’t received linens or chair covers they had paid for or only received parts of their order. The BBB immediately began forwarding the complaints to the business owner, and by late June had updated the company’s report to indicate there was a pattern of a problem and customers considering doing business with the company should be aware of that. As of December 16th, the BBB had processed 22 complaints against the company. Eleven of those complaints were closed unresolved and another seven were closed with no response received from the company.

5 Rules to Keep Your Identity and Credit Safe during the Holiday Shopping Season

Today we have a guest blog from Jon Ryan of ProtectIdentity.com

Your own shopping compulsions versus a limited budget isn’t the only threat during the holiday shopping season. Use of your credit cards can really increase during this time of year. Without thinking you could be falling into habits that put your entire financial persona in jeopardy.


1.  Be assertive. Don’t be afraid to disagree, say no, or ask questions. If you are in a shop and the clerk want to take your plastic into the back room, speak up. You shouldn’t let that little piece of plastic out of your sight. If you have to keep other people waiting do so. They also know you are in a rush too. Fraudsters use crowds to mask their efforts and human emotions to force their efforts.

2.  Watch where you swipe. ATMs are extreme risky during the holidays. Fraudsters use a device called a skimmer to grab account numbers and PINs from a single card swipe. The skimmer can be placed on top of or within the original reader, thereby intercepting the digits or it can be placed in a separate location on the ATM in hopes a customer accidentally swipes there instead. If you need cash, the best practice is to avoid mall ATMs and go inside your bank to get the funds.


3. Avoid giving. At lease right then and there. Any charity that wants your info and donation right then and there should be avoided. Don’t listen to the pleas. Any time you are going to give money away, there should be some research on the organization and where your money is going to actually go. The last thing you want to do is get surprised because you claimed a “fake” charitable donation on your taxes.

4.  Delve down when buying online. Think like a criminal here. Lines of encryption and a few bounces around to different IP addresses and then they are home free. There’s no face to attribute to the crime. Many people will avoid the crowds this year by taking their shopping lists to the web. If you choose to do so, don’t ever shop with your debit card. That is a direct line to your bank account. Under the federal laws, the credit card company can only hold you liable for $50 of any fraudulent transactions. The debit card could put you into overdraft fees and pose much more hassle and threat, so shop with your credit card or an alternative payment method like a prepaid check card or PayPal. Only buy on sites that have a secure server and a privacy policy and/or show the padlock icon in your browser’s bottom right hand corner. You can know your info is encrypted if the url goes from “http:\\” to “https:\\”. No email or search engine “shot-in-the dark” shopping. This will give you merchant’s with no researchable reputation.

5.  Beware of your surroundings & destroy everything. The two go hand in hand. Shoulder surfing and dumpster diving are still threats. People around you at the mall can probably heard you opening that new line of credit to cover your holiday expenses. Protect vital information from wandering eyes and ears. Write it down instead of verbally exchanging it. Afterwards take the slip with you and destroy it. Dumpster diving is still the easiest way for a low tech criminal to get hands on your personal info and steal your identity. Destroy/shred all these documents, especially those pre-approved lines of credit apps that come in the mail.

Follow these rules, and hopefully you will not become one of the 10 million who fall victim to identity theft every year. Also, remember less is more. Don’t leave the house with more cards or information than you absolutely need. It’s very important to watch your statements year-round, but this time of year you will be doing more spending than usual. So it stands to reason that more attention should be paid.
By Jon Ryan of ProtectIdentity.com, a blog hoping to spread awareness and provide identity theft protection tips.

Dating Scams From the Military Angle

I have talked about dating and romance scams in the past, but I recently came across an article dealing directly with Military Dating Scams that I wanted to share with you.

Since I am not a military person, and no one in my family has been an active military person since before I was born, I would not have known some of this information.

None of them use .mil email addresses that ALL military personnel have. These are just some of the tipoffs you should be aware of.

This is good to know.  Just like when the scammer contacts a person pretending to be with a federal agency, but they are using a gmail account . . . this is a red flag.

Some of the other red flags are when the scammer asks you to help them to cash checks.  The author of this article points out that military personal do not need assistance from civilians to get their checks.  Another line the scammers will feed you . . . they are injured and need help getting home because they are stuck in Dubai.  The military will always pay for any flight home, and injured soldiers would not be transported to Dubai and just left there.

Secret Shopper Scam email

Here is another sample of a Secret Shopper Scam email. I do have to say, at least the grammar is better in this one than in the usual letters.

———————–

Subject: Earn $200 Bonus For Each Assignment As A Secret Shopper This Christmas
From: noreply@aol.com
Reply To: enjoytoshopp@aol.com

Hello,

We are a company that conduct surveys and evaluate other companies. We get hired to go to other peoples companies and act like customers in order to know how the staffs are handling their services in relation to their customers.

We all shop, and many of us enjoy shopping. But very rarely does opportunity present itself to do what we enjoy doing and getting paid for doing it. Imagine earning extra income just for going shopping and filling out a questionnaire!

Mystery shopping is basically a form of market research. You are asked to gather information, from a customer’s perspective. Often times, this is done without the knowledge of the personnel where the shop is taking place. As a mystery shopper, you may therefore be asked to do some acting. This is not to deceive anyone but rather to assure that the information being gathered is representative.

The first thing to remember is that we are on the side of the client. You are not hired to catch anyone “in the act” or trap the employee. Rather, it is your job to answer specific questions in an unbiased and constructive way.

Confidentiality is also very important. In most cases, the establishment is not to know that a mystery shop is taking place. Additionally, the questionnaires may be protected by copyrights. Often, the employee evaluated will be informed of the results of your evaluation later and may even be allowed to read your comments. But this is for management to determine.

The information most often requested by management concerns employee to customer relations, employee performance, product quality or presentation of the establishment including cleanliness and convenience. This information helps management to identify areas of strength and weakness so they can take steps to correct the problem or potential problems before business is lost. The information can also allow management to monitor the success of a program designed to improve certain areas of concern. This can be a very advantageous tool to management in the extremely competitive business environment of today. Some companies will even inform employees that mystery shoppers will be visiting them but the employees will not know who or when the shop will take place. It may be considered a kind of report card and, as you can imagine, this can be a very effective motivational tool.

As a mystery shopper, you may receive assignments in a variety of establishments in your area. Most of them will be customer oriented retail establishments, which include chain stores, specialty stores and restaurants. Normally, it is the larger companies with many outlets and a central management office that use mystery shoppers. Statistics show that by far, the most important factor in competitiveness is customer service. Therefore, most of the information you will be asked to gather will concern customer service.

Obviously, mystery shoppers should appear to be a typical customer to the establishment. The mystery shoppers that consistently get new assignments, however, are those who are punctual and reliable. Mystery shopping companies want shoppers who also pay attention to detail and work well with others and have an appreciation of good service. You will be given specific questions to ask and perhaps specific products to shop for and/or purchase. You will be expected to promptly complete the questionnaire, neatly and concisely, and return it based on the instructions provided to you. Your job is not to be a problem shopper for the establishment but to gather specific and representative information.

Most of the time, the compensation for the assignment is established in advance and paid after the questionnaire is returned. As a mystery shopper, you are not an employee of the company that provides you an assignment–but rather an independent contractor. As such, there is no employee benefits and no taxes will be withheld from your pay. You are responsible for reporting your own income. However, you may want to consult your tax advisor as some tax breaks may apply.

EARNINGS
Pay can range from $200 to $300 per job assignment, with an average of $100 per assignment. Additionally there is a stipend for purchases. The number of assignments per day vary but if you are assertive in seeking work-and work for several mystery shopping companies-you could garner up to 20 assignments per month. While most mystery shoppers consider this a part time or “hobby” job, if you approach the work as a full-time job, you can earn $4,000 to $5,000 per month.

Your job will be to evaluate and comment on customer service in a wide variety of shops, stores, restaurant and services in your area.
No commitment is made on this job, and you would have flexible hours as it suits you. If you are interested do send in these information:

FULL NAME:……………………
CONTACT ADDRESS..(PLS NO PO BOX ADDRESS)……………….
CITY……………
STATE………….
ZIP CODE …………….
TELEPHONE NUMBER:……………….
MOBILE NUMBER:………………….
OCCUPATION:……………………
EMAIL:………………………

So we can look at your distance from the locations which you have to put your service into, and your address would also be need for your payments.
Great Pay** Fun Work** Flexible Schedules**No experience required.If you can shop-you are qualified!
No start off fees is required
Must be above 18years old
Must be computer literate
Must be very honest and committed
pls note that this is a part time job

David Scott
Thanks
Recruitment officer
Mystery Shoppers World

Payday Loan Scams

This information was posted on the FBI website.The Internet Crime Complaint Center has received many complaints from victims of payday loan telephone collection scams. Callers claim the victim is delinquent in a payday loan and must repay the loan to avoid legal consequences. The callers purport to be representatives of the FBI, Federal Legislative Department, various law firms, or other legitimate-sounding agencies. They claim to be collecting debts for companies such as United Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Net, and other Internet check-cashing services.

According to complaints received from the public, the callers have accurate data about victims, including Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, employer information, bank account numbers, and the names and telephone numbers of relatives and friends. How the fraudsters obtained the personal information varies, but in some cases victims have reported they completed online applications for other loans or credit cards before the calls started.

The fraudsters relentlessly call the victim’s home, cell phone, and place of employment. They refuse to provide any details about the alleged payday loans and become abusive when questioned. The callers have threatened victims with legal actions, arrests, and, in some cases, physical violence if they do not pay. In many cases, the callers harass victims’ relatives, friends, and employers.
Some fraudsters have instructed victims to fax a statement agreeing to pay a certain amount, on a specific date, via a pre-paid Visa card. The statement further declares the victim will never dispute the debt.
If you receive these calls, do not follow the caller’s instructions. Rather, you should:

  • Notify your banking institutions.
  • Contact the three major credit bureaus and request an alert be put on your file.
  • Contact your local law enforcement agencies if you feel you are in immediate danger.
  • File a complaint at www.IC3.gov.

Tips to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:

  • Never give your Social Security number—or personal information of any kind—over the telephone or online unless you initiate the contact.
  • Be suspicious of any e-mail with urgent requests for personal financial information. The e-mail may include upsetting or exciting but false statements to get you to react immediately.
  • Avoid filling out forms in e-mail messages that request personal information.
  • Ensure that your browser is up-to-date and security patches have been applied.
  • Check your bank, credit, and debit card statements regularly to make sure that there are no unauthorized transactions. If anything looks suspicious, contact your bank and all card issuers.
  • When you contact companies, use numbers provided on the back of cards or statements