New Investigative Series Wants to Help You Settle The Score!

Exciting New Investigative Series Wants to Help You Settle The Score!

Have you been the victim of a bait & switch?
Have you been stung by a scammer?
Have you been duped by an online seller, shamed on the internet or outright ripped off by someone on social media?

The internet is something we use everyday…but dangers lurk everywhere.
Online thieves, con artists, shysters & scammers are having a heyday, and their crimes are often too small scale to call the cops or file an expensive & time consuming lawsuit.

You don’t know where to go, or who to turn to…so turn to us.
If you’ve been burned by an online thief, if you’ve ‘clicked this link’ and ended up losing money, or had your reputation tarnished by a facebook or Yelp type post, then this is your chance to stand up & let your frustration be heard!

New TV Series for a Major Cable Network wants to help you find the perp, settle the score, and get even.
We’ll find out what happened, what went wrong, and chase down the person you think is guilty.

Please send an email to LetsEvenTheScore@gmail.com and tell us your story!
And please tell them that Shawn from Scam Victims United sent you!

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When the Kids Are Away, the Scammers Come Out to Play

I was asked to share this information about scams related to students away on Spring Break.  That time of year is just around the corner, and this is something that all parents need to be aware of.  Much like the Grandparent Scams, this scam preys on an adult wanted to help out a child in trouble.

MoneyGram Offers Advice to Parents of College Spring Breakers 
To Avoid Fraud During Popular Travel Period

DALLAS (Feb. 22, 2012) – While most Americans will prepare to lose an hour of sleep when Daylight Saving Time ends in mid-March, many parents are preparing to lose something else: their peace of mind when their college-age children travel on spring break

According to MoneyGram (NYSE: MGI), a leading global money transfer company, spring break can end up “breaking the bank” if parents don’t stay alert to the “family scam” – when a scammer calls parents to inform them their child is in trouble in a distant location, asking for money for medical care or bail, even though the child is perfectly safe.

“Spring break can be a letting-go experience for parents of college students,” said Kim Garner, Senior Vice President of Global Security for MoneyGram. “But along with letting go, parents should hang on to their common sense, especially when it comes to helping their kids stay safe and avoid certain common scams.

Garner offers the following advice to parents of college students to safeguard their physical and financial health during spring break:

Check in before heading out: American students traveling internationally can register with the U.S. State Department’s free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which will help with communications in the event of an emergency. Canadian students can register with their country’s similar program, Registration of Canadians Abroad.

Take a lesson from E.T.: Phone home: Parents should make a deal with their students traveling for spring break – a little freedom for a few phone calls and some extra phone numbers. Parents should establish specific times for phone calls to check in, so they will know where their students are and what they’re up to, and get cell phone numbers for the friends of their traveling children as a back-up means of communication.

Just say no: With personal belongings left scattered on beach towels, scammers often will use student IDs to find parents and ask for money to be wired in the aid of their child who can’t come to the phone. Garner of MoneyGram advises parents to say no – and never wire money to anyone they don’t know – instead checking in by calling the child’s cell phone or the local authorities where their child is vacationing.

Give them credit: Parents can temporarily add a child as an approved user to a credit card, and place a pre-set spending limit on the card as a way to prompt financial responsibility while the student is traveling.

Put a policy in place: To guard against a financial loss, parents should check with their insurance company to make sure their child’s possessions are insured on their homeowner’s policy while the student is traveling, especially if the child will be traveling outside the United States.

“The best way to ensure a safe spring break and avoid a scam is to talk to your child in advance about these types of precautions, and schedule regular contact so you can hear directly from them that they’re safe,” said Garner of MoneyGram. “And while the student is traveling, parents should focus on their own protection against scams by never sending money to anyone they don’t know, regardless of what the individual on the other end of a phone might be telling them.”

As part of MoneyGram’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from wire transfer fraud, the company recently launched an enhanced version of its fraud prevention website – www.moneygram-preventfraud.com. MoneyGram recommends that before initiating a money transfer, consumers should:

· Know – Always know the person to whom you are sending money. Never send money to strangers.

· Show – Never show or share information about your money transfer to anyone but the recipient.

· Throw – Discard or throw away any offers that promise easy ways to earn money, especially if the offers require you to send money before earning money.

Consumers who suspect fraud associated with money transfers should contact their local law enforcement. Consumers should call 1-800-MONEYGRAM (800-666-3947) if they believe MoneyGram was used to wire money as a result of a scam.

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Another tip from Scam Victims United
When we were kids they taught us about “Stranger Danger” and avoiding becoming a victim of kidnapping.  We were told to never go with a stranger, even if they looked “nice” or said that they were a friend of your parents and your parents sent them to pick you up.  In my family, we had a “code word” so that if someone we did not know DID have to pick us up, they would have to know the “code word” before we would go with them.  Similar to this, create a code word with your child before they leave for Spring Break.  If someone calls saying that they are your child’s friend you just need to ask “What is the code word?”  If they don’t know it, you will know right away that they are lying.

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Minnesota Bill HF343

I have mentioned the Minnesota Bill HF343 on this blog in the past.  It is one that several people who are concerned about the growing number of scams and fraud wish to see become a law.  Just this week it was sent to the General Register, which means it is one step closer to becoming a law.

To hear the audio from that meeting you can go here . . . http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/audio/archivescomm.asp?comm=87004&ls_year=87

I encourage all of you to read the bill and contact the Representatives that are backing this bill to thank them for their work and share with them why you believe this bill needs to become law.

Computer Assistance Scam

Most of us use our computers on a daily basis, and the idea of a virus in our computer is something that no one wants to deal with.  So what if a computer technical support service called you and warned you that they had detected a virus on your computer, and they were able to help you to rid your computer of that virus BEFORE it corrupted all of your files and documents?

This is one of the phone scams that is going around right now, and I know about it because they called my house twice this week.  When I answered the phone the person on the other end identified themselves as a Tech Support Specialist from Microsoft.  They knew my name and address, and they told me that they had detected a problem with my computer.  It just seemed strange to me that a company like Microsoft would be calling me to alert me to a virus on my computer, but I listened to what they had to say because I knew it had to be a scam and wanted to get some more information from them.  They wanted me to go to my computer and go to a website and that is when I told them that I knew that there was no problem with my computer.

After hanging up, I jumped on my computer and started doing some Google Research.  I found that this scam has been hitting people in the UK, Australia, South Africa and now it seems to have made it’s way to the United States.  Had I stayed on the phone, the phony Tech Support caller would have directed me to look at some files on my computer that would have “proven” that I had the virus that they were calling about.  They would have then directed me to a website where I could download a file that would fix the issue, but what that file really does is allow them access to your computer!  Now they have all of your information!  And to top it off they will ask you to pay them for this service.

Microsoft has information about this scam on their website . . .

Once they have access to your computer, they can do the following: 

Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software.

Take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.

Request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services.

Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there.

Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.

As with anything, do your research first.  One intended victim indicated that when they spoke with the phone Tech Support person they indicated that they had 4 computers in their home, and asked which computer had the problem . . . the phony Tech responded that they could turn on any one of their computers to fix this problem.  This was a dead giveaway that it was a scam.

If you have been hit by this scam you should change your passwords, use a trusted malware scanner to remove any unwanted software from your computer and contact your bank and credit card companies.

Internet Scam Victims – Real Stories

When I first became a scam victim I was embarrassed and did not want anyone to know . . . that lasted all of 5 minutes and then I was angry at so many things . . . the scammers for their greed, the banking system for not giving me accurate information about how long it takes for a cashier’s check to clear, the wire transfer company for not having more warnings about these scams in their businesses and for turning a blind eye to the problem.

That is when I KNEW I had to do something.  I started to contact the media in order to get our story out there, and you know what . . . it HELPED!  It helped me to talk about it and get it out there, but it also helped so many other people.  My phone was ringing off the hook from people saying “The same thing happened to me” or from people who heard our story in the media in time for them to know the situation they were about to enter into was a scam and it saved them thousands of dollars.

If you are a scam victim, you could do the same thing for someone else.  I am contacted by the media in a regular basis asking for help in locating recent scam victims who would be willing to share their story.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that you saved someone else from going through the living hell that becomes your life when you discover you are a victim of a scam.

If you would like to be able to help to educate people about scams and fraud, and possibly save someone from becoming a victim, please email me and I will work to connect you with a media person that will do your story justice and help us to take a step forward in educating people about these scams.

Also, you can connect with me and follow our updates from http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch/

Better Business Bureau Tips for Consumers – June addition

The BBB sends out tips for consumers, and here is their June addition.

BBB Advice on Avoiding Wedding Scams
Love is in the air as many couples prepare for their long-awaited wedding day this summer. When preparing for the big day, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) advises people to proceed with caution when it comes to buying a wedding dress online, choosing a photographer and selecting a wedding planner. Doing so will help you ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch.
Asking for referrals and doing a little research can make a big difference in helping your special day go smoothly. Last year alone, the BBB received more than 970 complaints against wedding-related businesses. Services like wedding planners, bridal shops, car or limousine rentals, DJs, wedding photographers, florists, and jewelers all made the list. Many of the common complaints were centered on the company’s unwillingness to honor cancellation and refund policies after a deposit had been paid.
From choosing a florist to picking out the perfect wedding gown, more and more couples are opting for online retailers. While most venues have the brides’ best interest at heart, it’s important to recognize the danger signs before shelling out hard-earned cash to unreliable businesses.
“With the cost of today’s wedding averaging around $28,000, you want to make sure you get everything you pay for,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB. “It’s important to do your research before securing your wedding vendors and paying any upfront fees.”
The BBB recommends couples consider the following when planning for their special day:
Research all online vendors. When choosing to go with an online retailer for your wedding services or products, start with a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can often lead you to unscrupulous websites or phishing scams.  Also, look for the BBB seal and other widely-recognized “trustmarks” on retail websites. Click on the seals to confirm they’re valid. Confirm that your online purchase is secure by looking for the “s” after “http” in the URL or the lock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Be sure to check the company out with the BBB at www.bbb.org before doing business with them.

Review all terms and conditions. Whether you’re dealing with an online firm or a brick and mortar store, review the terms and conditions of the contract carefully. What are the company’s refund and exchange policies? What is their cancellation policy?  What happens if the company can’t hold up their end of the bargain?  Who will perform the service on your special day? Be sure you understand your rights as a consumer before doing business with the company.

Keep documentation of your order. For online orders, save a copy of the confirmation page or e-mails confirming the order until you receive the item or service and are satisfied. If you’re dealing with a company representative in-person, be sure to get all details in writing, including specific dates, products, prices, cancellation and deposit policies and signatures from both parties.
Pay with a credit card.Credit cards offer consumers the added protection of disputing any charge over $50 within 60 days of the purchase. Most established businesses accept major credit cards, so use them whenever possible, including payment for deposits Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on the card, and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies if someone steals your card number and uses it. Never wire money.Consider purchasing wedding insurance. Wedding insurance can cover a range of prospective problems including vendor no-shows, cancellations, inclement weather, military deployment, medical emergencies, travel delays and more. Many policies start at $200 and can potentially save you thousands of dollars.

For more consumer tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org/us/bbb-news.

Survey on Scams and Fraud

A post-graduate researcher has asked us to help them with a survey they are doing.  I have personally taken this survey and feel it is safe for all of you to take, otherwise I would not even ASK for your help.  It does NOT ask for any personal information at all, just some questions on your feelings and thoughts on different real life situations.

Here is a link to the survey
http://survey.scamresearch.info//index.php?sid=43356&lang=en

And here is a link to some more information on the person doing this research if you are interested
http://scamvictimsunited.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=6529

Thank you for your help!  Please spread the word to other scam fighting websites that you know.