BBB Top 10 Scams for 2010

From http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/dpp/news/bbb-stats-pedict-scams-january-12-2010

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The recession has thousands of people out of work, but the scam artists are hard at work. In year ahead, the Better Business Bureau says they are likely to come at you from every angle.

No one knows that better than the Bureau’s Dan Hendrickson.

“The people that are out there trying to get information dishonestly are very persistent, said Hendrickson. “And they will keep on coming at you and that’s way you always have to be on guard.”

The Better Business Bureau has looked at the past to try and predict what will happen in the future, in this case the next year. For 2010, it has put together its own Top Ten List of scams:

1. Winter Olympics Scams. This year’s Olympic Games are fairly close by in Vancouver, British Columbia. A little known fact is that U.S. citizens can buy event tickets only through http://www.cosport.com . Buy your tickets anywhere else, and the BBB says you risk losing your money. It also advises consumers to be aware of travel packages that don’t provide accommodations.

2. Census Scams. At its core the government Census is about counting people. For the crook it’s about counting something else. The BBB fears that under the guise of collecting data, scammers will try to trick people into giving out banking and other personal information. The Census WILL NOT contact you by email, and if a Census worker comes to your door, you have the right to ask for their credentials proving they work for the Census.

3. Green Remodeling Offers. President Obama and Congress are giving away tax credits for qualified remodeling projects that reduce energy consumption. When working with a contractor, homeowners should have a clear understanding of what makes a product or appliance green and if it benefits them. Also, check the credentials of the contractor with the Better Business Bureau or the state licensing agencies.

4. Job Scams. In this recession, scammers will try to rope people into fraudulent re-shipping schemes or offer jobs in exchange for an upfront payment.

5. Pre-Acquired Account Marketing Offers. It’s a high-brow term for a low-brow attempt to take your money. It happens when you buy something on line and you suddenly get a pop-up offering discounts to the store from which you just made a purchase. By clicking on these offers to save, customers unknowingly sign up for memberships which result in a monthly bill.

6. IRS Related Scams. These are typically by email. The message indicates it’s from the IRS asking for financial information. The IRS reminds taxpayers that it never discusses tax account information by email.

7. Wireless Security Breaches. Which business person or college student hasn’t fired up their laptop and gone online at a coffee shop? Yes, they are great places to hang out, but everything you transmit is viewable on an unsecured network.

8. Fake Online Classified Ads or Auction Sales. Think Craigslist. It’s a great site, but also a place where crooks can post fake ads to scam you out of your money. The BBB advises that if you buy from a online classified ad or auction site that you consider only making payment through third party transaction companies such as PayPal.

9. Gift Card Scams. The BBB says there are actually online sites where people can buy gift cards at reduced prices. Later they discover that the cards carry little to no value.

10. Smishing Scams. This works like Phishing on your computer, except Smishing takes place on your cell phone. It happens when a text message is sent to your phone indicating your bank or credit card accounts have been frozen and you need to call a certain number to rectify the accounts. The scammer is looking to collect your banking information. This actually happened in December of 2008 to many customers of a major Twin Cities bank.

The best advice from the Better Business Bureau is to be aware.

“We hear so many times people saying, ‘Well it sounded like such a good deal, or such a good offer, I had to do it,’” said Hendrickson. “And, you know we understand that. But the reality is if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Stay safe from scams at the holidays

This information can be found at
http://www.ic3.gov/media/2009/091130.aspx

This holiday season the Federal Bureau of Investigation ( FBI) is reminding people that cyber criminals continue to aggressively create new ways to steal money and personal information. Scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims including fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, and sale of fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at a discounted price.

Fraudulent Classified Ads or Auction Sales
Internet criminals post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have. If you receive an auction product from a merchant or retail store, rather than directly from the auction seller, the item may have been purchased with someone else’s stolen credit card number. Contact the merchant to verify the account used to pay for the item actually belongs to you.

Shoppers should be cautious and not provide financial information directly to the seller, as fraudulent sellers will use this information to purchase items for their scheme from the provided financial account. Always use a legitimate payment service to protect purchases.

As for product delivery, unfamiliar Web sites or individuals selling reduced or free shipping to customers through auction sites many times are deemed to be fraudulent. In many instances, these Web sites or sellers provide shipping labels to their customers as a service. However, the delivery service providers are ultimately not being paid to deliver the package; therefore, packages shipped by the victims using these labels are intercepted by delivery service providers because they are identified as fraudulent.

Diligently check each seller’s rating and feedback along with their number of sales and the dates on which feedback was posted. Be wary of a seller with 100% positive feedback, if they have a low total number of feedback postings and all feedback was posted around the same date and time.

Gift Card Scam
Be careful about purchasing gift cards from auction sites or through classified ads. If you need a gift card, it is safest to purchase it directly from the merchant or another authorized retail store. If the gift card merchant discovers the card you received from another source or auction was initially obtained fraudulently, the merchant will deactivate the gift card number and it will not be honored for purchases.

Phishing and Smishing Schemes
Be leery of e-mails or text messages you receive indicating a problem or question regarding your financial accounts. In this scam, you are directed to follow a link or call the number provided in the message to update your account or correct the problem. The link actually directs the individuals to a fraudulent Web site or message that appears legitimate where any personal information you provide, such as account number and PIN, will be stolen.

Another scam involves victims receiving an e-mail message directing the recipient to a spoofed Web site. A spoofed Web site is a fake site or copy of a real Web site and misleads the recipient into providing personal information, which is routed to the scammer’s computers.

Tips
Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:

Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.

Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.

Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Virus scan the attachments if possible.

Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.

Always compare the link in the e-mail to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they actually match and will lead you to a legitimate site.

Log on directly to the official Web site for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.

Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify if the e-mail is genuine.

To receive the latest information about cyber scams, please go to the FBI Web site and sign up for e-mail alerts by clicking on one of the red envelopes. If you have received a scam e-mail, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.IC3.gov.

For more information on e-scams, please visit the FBI’s New E-Scams and Warnings webpage at http://www.fbi.gov/cyberinvest/escams.htm.

ATM Scam

Robert Siciliano o fhttp://IDTheftSecurity.com was recently on Extra. He was showing how easy it is for a scammer to attach a skimmer to an ATM machine and steal the bank information from hundreds of people in one day. The even scarier part is that the ATM machine that Robert bought to demonstrate this was purchased on Craigslist.

 

Here is a link to the segment that aired.

http://extratv.warnerbros.com/2009/11/protect_yourself_from_atm_skimmers.php

Boston Globe Article here:
http://www.boston.com/business/personalfinance/articles/2009/11/22/independent_atms_pose_more_risk_than_you_think/

More here: http://www.finextra.com/community/fullblog.aspx?id=3551

Why do scammers love Craigslist?

Many websites have become infested with scammers, but Craigslist seems to be one of the places that the scammers really love to hang out. Why is that?

Variety of categories – In the past, when a scammer wanted to find a victim for their overpayment scams they had to go to a website were people were selling items, usually of large value. If they wanted to find a victim for an employment scam, they had to go to a site where people were posting their resumes. If they wanted to find a victim for a romance or dating scam, they would have to go to a dating website. If you wanted to find a victim for renter or roommate scam, you had to go to a site where people were posting housing information. With Craigslist, you can find all of those people in the different categories on the same site.

Includes the entire country – There are other classified ad sites that would have the same variety of categories that Craigslist has, but they are usually for a certain geographic location. If the scammer wants to try and find more victims, they would have to go to another classified ad site that is targeted towards another geographic location. With Craigslist all the scammer has to do is click on a new city and state for their search location and they have a entirely different group of victims to try and bring into their scam.

It’s free – Not only is Craigslist free for people to post or creating listings, but it is also free to people looking at those listings. This works to the scammer’s advantage. If the scammer is the one placing the listing, for a Secret Shopper job for example, they do not have to pay anything to place that advertisement. Many of the sites that require you to pay to post have a lower number of scams posted simply due to the fact that the scammer is there to make money, and not to spend it. It works the other way too . . . if the scammer is the one searching the posted ads for their next victim, they do not have to pay anything to have access to those listings.

Craigslist does have warning information on their site, and I think that some of their warnings should hold true if you are using their site or another classified ad site.

Deal with local buyers and sellers. If you sell your item and you need to have it shipped someplace you are taking a greater risk. If you deal locally, you can arrange to meet the person face to face to exchange money and the item for sale.

Never wire funds to someone you only know via email conversations. Scammers use services like Western Union and MoneyGram in their scams because they know that once the money is wired off and picked up on the other end there is no way to recover the money. Also, since they are overseas, our law enforcement in the United States cannot just go and pick them up for taking your money. It becomes an issue for the government and law enforcement in the country that they live in. This all goes back to jurisdiction, which we talked about in the past, and you can review here.

One thing that I think that Craigslist could add to their posted warning is that a cashier’s check could take 10 business days or more to go through the clearing process. Just because you take the check to the bank and they tell you that it has cleared, or that it will be verified as good in 24 hours does not mean that the bank knows for sure that this check was written on a good account and has the funds in that account to cover the check. This is the information that is missing from so many of the current internet scam warnings, but is also the piece of information that could save so many scam victims. So why don’t the places that post the warnings understand this and include this information? Personally, I feel it is because they are thinking as a “business” and not as a scam victims, and that is one thing that I can do since I have been there myself.

Had we known back in October of 2002 that the check could take up to 10 business days to go through the entire clearing process and that until that happened we would be liable for the entire amount of the check, then there is no way we would have wired any money off any sooner than 10 business days . . . actually, my husband and I had promised each other that what ever amount of time the bank said to wait to be safe we were going to double to be extra safe, so like I said, if they would have been honest with us there is no way we would have become scam victims.

Consumer Alert – Housing Scam

http://www.fbi.gov/page2/july09/housingscam_072909.html

In this consumer alert by the FBI, they look at what we refer to as Roommate or Renter Scams.  We have been reporting stories of Roommate/Renter Scams since 2005.  Many victims are sent cashier’s checks as a deposit on a room/space they are renting, and it will either be for more than the agreed upon amount, or the renter will later back out of the deal completely and ask for the money to be wired back to them.
 
Remember, it takes an average of 7 to 10 business days for the bank to find out that the check is counterfeit, and in some cases we have seen it take months.  No matter how long it takes, once it comes back as counterfeit the bank will hold you liable for the entire amount of the check, even if they had already told you that it was “clear” or “verified”.  Never wire money to someone that sent you a cashier’s check or money order.  That is a clear sign of a scam.
 
Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com
There is strength in numbers!

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through
http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch

Craigslist rental scam targets SC homeowners – WMBF News | Myrtle Beach/Florence,SC | News, Weather and Sports-

Craigslist rental scam targets SC homeowners – WMBF News | Myrtle Beach/Florence,SC | News, Weather and Sports-

We have seen victims of the Renter/Roommate scams for the past couple of years at Scam Victims United. Scammers will use many ways to find their victims.

Just remember, if someone sends you a cashier’s check, money order or travler’s check and wants you to cash it and wire any portion of it on to someone, or back to them IT IS A SCAM!