BBB Scams of Month

posted by Brian Thomas - 

Military Consumer Protection Month

Military veterans are more likely than other Americans to be the victims of scams, according to an AARP study. More than twice as many veterans as non veterans lost money to scam artists during the past five years and some of the scams were aimed specifically at programs and charities geared to veterans.

The top five scams that affect service members are impostor scams, telephone and mobile services scams, shop at home scams, sweepstakes scams, and counterfeit check scams.

For example, military consumers reported losing more than $25 million to impostor scams last year with a median loss of $699 each - markedly higher than the $500 median loss reported by general civilians.

Aspects of a service member’s job often make them more vulnerable to scams include having a guaranteed and steady income. Since they’re frequently deployed and move around often, it makes staying on top of red flags in bills and credit reports more difficult. 

In general, military consumers are strongly encouraged to keep a close on their bank accounts, question deals that just sound too good to be true and consider placing an active duty alert on their credit reports to minimize the risk of identity theft. Report any suspicious activity to scamtracker.org 

Smishing Makes a Come Back

People use their phones for EVERYTHING, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when a random text message sneaks through from an unknown contact

One major tactic is the use of scam texts, - known as “smishing,” - to steal personal information. 

Scammers send what looks like a text alert from the bank, asking you to confirm information or “reactivate your debit/credit card” by following a link on your smartphone. 

Banks of all sizes have been used as bait, and details of the scam vary, but the outcome is the same: scammers get your banking information, maybe even your ATM number and PIN.  Now the latest smishes are happening on social media platforms and pose as your favorite retailer or software app requesting the confirm of your personal information. 

And quicker than you can hit delete, another one pops up.

Rule of thumb - Banks don’t communicate with you about your personal banking in this way - so don’t respond to these kinds of texts. Second, see the first rule. If you haven’t changed a password or access an online app account recently that needed your personal information, Delete delete delete the message and then report it to scamtracker.org

Local Company Spoofed by Spammer

BBB has received several ScamTracker entries from Greater Cincinnati area consumers about a job posting from a local business. The position offers applicants a job for 15-20-30 dollars an hour and a free laptop to do the work. BUT in order to receive it applicants must send a 50 dollar iTunes gift card to purchase computer software to the company that posted the position. Keep in mind the position that’s being posted is not by the company it says its affiliated with.

Several people have stepped forward to report a similar spoof using the same company name have reported being sent fraudulent checks and/or asked to purchase iTunes gift cards to pay for equipment for the position. One person reportedly lost $1,400.

BBB attempted to connect with the business to notify them of the Scamtracker report and are still waiting to hear from them. 

BBB encourages job seekers to beware of these sorts of advertisements. Bogus foreign companies often advertise in help wanted ads on Internet job sites like Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com or Yahoo HotJobs. The ads claim to be looking for an "import/export specialist," "marketing manager," "shipping agent," or "financial manager." Job seekers are often asked to forward money from one account to another, or to reship stolen merchandise to overseas companies as part of their employment duties. Additionally, they may be told that the employer is in a foreign country and needs an American contact to handle its business in the U.S. 

Avoid job listings that use these descriptions: package forwarding, reshipping, money transfers, wiring funds and foreign agent agreements. These and similar phrases should raise a red flag. 

Do not be fooled by official-sounding corporate names. Some scam artists operate under names that sound like those of long-standing, reputable firms. 

Never forward or transfer money from any of your personal accounts on behalf of your employer. Also, be suspicious if you are asked to wire money or purchase a gift card to send to an employer. If a legitimate job requires you to make money transfers, the money should be withdrawn from the employer's business account, not yours. 

Do not give out your personal financial information. A potential legitimate employer will not request your bank account, credit card or Paypal account number. Only provide your banking information if a legitimate company hires you and you choose to have your paycheck direct deposited. 

Do not fax copies of your ID or Social Security number to someone you have never met. Credit checks and fake IDs can be obtained with this information. Only give these documents to your employer when you are physically at the place of employment. 

If you have questions about the legitimacy of a job listing, contact BBB, report it to scamtracker.org, your state or local consumer agency or the Federal Trade Commission."

Brian Thomas

Brian Thomas

Based in Cincinnati, OH, the Brian Thomas Morning Show covers news and politics, both local and national, from a conservative point of view. Read more

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