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How To Avoid The Top 3 Latest Scams

September 17, 2012

Fraud is on the rise. Don’t fall victim to the latest tricks.

According to Consumer Reports Canada, here are 3 of the latest scams you need to protect yourself from:

You’ve just won a $100 gift card!

In this bamboozle, burglars claiming to be from a local store call to tell you that you’ve just won the prized plastic, and you must come in to pick it up.

Burglary. The game is to get you out of the house so that robbers can carry out an old-fashioned break-in while you’re gone.

Protect yourself. This simple trick works because it catches you by surprise. Always be suspicious when someone promises you something for nothing. The Better Business Bureau, which first warned about this scam, advises “winnners” need to ask questions: What contest did I win? How was I chosen? Call the store to independently confirm the details. After you determine that it’s a scam, notify the police. And take extra precautions to lock up your house, set your alarm, and protect valuables when you do leave, since burglars have clearly targeted your home.

You could win an iPad. Start bidding!

Hot electronics are commonly used to entice victims into a shakedown. A pop-up ad on your computer invites you to bid on an iPad, laptop PC, or wide-screen TV, but you must include your cell-phone number to play. Submitting your bid sends a text message to your cell-phone that, whether you respond or not, may authorize an unwanted $9.99 a month subscription to some useless service. The charge gets tacked onto your cell-phone bill, where you’re unlikely to notice it.

Cramming. The auction is smoke and mirrors designed to capture your cell-phone number to place unauthorized charges on your bill, a practice called cramming. Unlike numbers for landlines, cell-phone numbers aren’t published in directories, so scammers must be under-handed to get it.

Cell-phone companies, which can collect $1 to $2 commissions per charge, claim that wireless cramming isn’t a problem but Consumer Reports found 480,000 alleged cell-cramming victims in one case, and in 2011 a Senate committee investigation comcluded that landline and cell-phone crammers could be fleecing $2 billion a year from consumers.

Protect yourself. Guard you cell-phone number like a credit card; don’t give it to strangers. Demand refunds from your cell provider if you’ve bin crammed. Tell your wireless and landline carriers to block all third-party billing to your account, and check previous bills for cramming charges.

I’m a recruiter. Want a $17.50-an-hour job?

Last May, job hunters using computers at a public library in Columbus, Ohio, to research the want ads were approached by a ‘recruiter” looking to fill positions at a new store nearby. The sneak used the library to conduct job interviews, and canditates filled out applications with their name, date of birth, Social Security number, and more.

Identity-theft scams. When the applicants later went to the store for training, they learned that the recruiter wasn’t associated with it at all. Rather, face-to-face job interviews are a new and brazen way to extract information for ID theft.

Job scams rank seventh on the BBB’s top 10 scams list, and such come-ons also involve work-at-home schemes including stuffing envelopes, assembling merchandise, medical billing and claims processing, and reshipping what the victim may not know are stolen goods.

ID theft was the biggest category on the FTC’s 2011 complaint list. Thieves us a wide variety of tactics to get you to give up key information that lets them steal from your existing bank and credit accounts or use your Social Insurance number to open phony financial accounts and commit other crimes in your name. The most effective deceptions appear to come from your bank or credit-card company, a government agency, or other entity that you trust, and they wheedle information out of you by saying they need it to correct an error or prevent a problem.

Protect yourself. Never give your personal information to anyone who telephones, e-mails, texts, or otherwise initiates contact with you. Don’t participate in fun-looking online pop-up quizzes that ask for your mother’s maiden name, your first pet’s name, or other information commonly used to verify your identity. Monitor your financial accounts weekly or even daily, place a security freeze on your credit bureaus, and file an ID-theft report with the local police if you get swindled.

If someone approaches you with a job, contact the prospective employer to verify that the recruiter and the job opening are legitimate. There should be no need for checking-account or other financial information on your application.

If you don’t have a security system or don’t have it monitored, call me for a free, no-obligation consultation.  You will be glad you did!

Ulli Robson, Security Specialist , (780) 288-2986

SafewithUlli: Keep it Simple! on Vimeo:

SafewithUlli: Save the Gambling for Vegas! on Vimeo:


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