BBB Scams - May

Pension Poaching

May is National Military Appreciation Month, a declaration that encourages everyone to honor current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces that perished in the line of duty in pursuit of freedom.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t deter unscrupulous scammers out there looking to make a few quick bucks or steal the identity of the innocent. 

This particular con is for Veterans: it’s called Pension Poaching and here’s how it works. Bogus financial brokers, insurance agents, and attorneys set up workshops in senior care facilities to offer their financial planning services for free and in return, the clients will yield huge financial returns. What often happens is they’ll restructure the veteran’s assets in a potentially catastrophic way and charge a service fee on top of it.

The Aid and Attendance benefit is paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This benefit is paid to wartime veterans, or their spouses, who meet low income and asset requirements and also require medical assistance with some of their daily activities. While the benefit is the real deal, it may not be as comprehensive and comfortable as the pension plan that was already in place.

Avoid being cornered into a financial decision that could lead to future failure. There’s no such thing as a free lunch and something that sounds too good to be true is exactly that.  Double check a financial advisor’s credentials by visiting finra.org. If someone is unethically trying to sell a financial product by overpromising eligibility for Aid and Attendance, file a complaint with the State Attorney General’s Office or with the Federal Trade Commission. Learn more pension poaching by visiting http://www.nolo.com/

If you are dealing with a person trying to improperly sell you an annuity or insurance product, complain to your  State Insurance Regulator. If you believe an attorney has behaved unethically, complain to your State Bar Association. Report this type behavior to scamtracker.org

FCC Fines Robocaller $120M for Illegal Calls

We’ve all had those numbers pop up in our caller ID with the same area codes and first three digits of our number and random last four digits. Most may ignore the call and others might accidentally or be required to pick up the call because of a job responsibility or other reason. 

The concept is called neighborhood spoofing where the area code and first three digits of the landline or cell phone number show up in the caller id to encourage people to answer the call. The calls professed to offer vacation deals from major travel companies such as Expedia, Hilton, Marriott and TripAdvisor. But instead, those who answered were transferred to foreign call centers and sold travel packages at unrelated destinations, including timeshares in Mexico. 

After several complaints from consumers about these calls, travel agencies like TripAdvisor got fed up with the spoof and worked with the FCC to track down the perpetrator in Florida who was then fined $120M last year for placing 97M of these calls. This is the highest fine ever assessed by the FCC for this activity. Time will tell to see if this type of action will reduce the average 3.4B robocalls that ring through. In the meantime, Federal agencies are taking action and searching for ways to regulate the robocall industry and working policies to address the issue. In the meantime, you can report these calls to scamtracker.org as well as the FTC. It might be worth looking into a call blocking service on your cell phone and landline.

Twitter wasn’t hacked but it REALLY wants you to change your password

Twitter recently announced it found and fixed a ‘bug’ that stored user passwords internally without adequate security. This is great news for users since they’re taking proactive steps to let 336 million users to take heed and update their passwords right away.

Here are a few tips:

Get a password manager

Since the best passwords should be hard to remember, consider using a password manager which are applications that can generate long, unique passwords for every service you use, and remember them all so you don't have to. Remember though, they are just as susceptible to hackers so keep the same rules for creating usernames and passwords for them as you would for your other accounts.

Turn on two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is a setting offered on most major services, including social media, email, and financial accounts. Turning it on means even if someone does have your password, they can't access your accounts without a second piece of information, like a code texted to your phone.

Change your other passwords too

Tired of the endless partisan bickering and memes, you stopped posting to Twitter in 2016 and took up knitting. Congratulations on your life choices! But you might still need to change some passwords.

If you used the same password on any other services like Facebook or your bank account, you should change those passwords immediately as well. Make sure each new password is also unique or you will have to go through this process again the next time there is a password issue at one of the services you use. (There will always be a next time.)

Find additional tips on cybersecurity on bbb.org/cybersecurity.

The Deadline is Near! Students of Integrity Scholarship Applications

BBB Center for Ethics awards four annual scholarships to high school seniors who reside in our 20 county service area of Southern Ohio, Northern Kentucky & Southeast Indiana. The Center is accepting applications for the Students of Integrity Scholarships to students who demonstrate exceptional ethical reasoning skills. 

The inaugural Thomas J. Klinedinst, Jr. SOI Scholarship will be awarded to the top SOI winner, empowering that student to further his/her educational career with $2,000 towards post-secondary education costs. Three other winners will receive $1,000.

The application encourages students to work through a real-life dilemma, challenging their ideas of what it means to be ethical. The deadline is June 4, but get ahead of the rest and start your application now! Visit centerforethics.org/soi.

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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