Category: FraudAlert





Package Theft.

You can avoid this by making your delivery require a signature or have them delivered to a carrier pickup point such as Amazon’s Locker.

Fake Shopping Sites

Using these will at best send you shoddy goods for high prices and identity theft at worst.  You can avoid this by carefully checking the website for a name brand that’s one letter off or has come-ons as part of the name such as DEALS, DISCOUNTS, or SALES. Also avoid if discounts are too step or the site only lists a PO Box or an E-Mail address not a phone number or postal address. Google the company name or YELP.COM


Fake E-mails or Phone Calls

The fake E-Mail will say there was a problem with delivering your gift so click on the link to arrange delivery. DON’T. You’ll get malware.

The fake phone calls ask you to return their call to area codes with very high per minute charges.

Fake Freebies

All sorts of mischief here from credit card theft to malware to ID theft. Check the manufacturer’s web site. If the offer is not there RUN.

Gift Card Rip-offs

Avoid buying cards from gift card racks. Buy from the store issuing it or their websites. Thieves can open gift cards, steal info and cash them when you activate them.

Fake E-Cards

Can contain malware or annoying pop up ads. If you don’t know the sender or the card company or see spelling errors DELETE.

Fake Holiday Job Adds

They will gather enough information to steal your identity.

To avoid this, verify the company is real contact them to see if they are really hiring.



For years, many people who lost money to scams sent their payment through a Western Union wire transfer. Scammers contacted people and promised prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products or other financial rewards in exchange for money upfront. They also pretended to be family members in need of cash or law enforcement officers demanding payment. The scammers told people to send money through Western Union. No one received the cash, prizes or services they were promised.


Because of joint investigations by the FTC, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, Western Union admitted to aiding and abetting wire fraud and has agreed to pay $586 million. The Department of Justice is now using that money to provide refunds to people who were tricked into using Western Union to pay scammers. Deadline to file a claim is

February 12, 2018.


In the immediate future, the Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department will be attempting to contact its residents who have been victims

of this type of scam to advise them that they may be eligible to file a claim.


To learn more or to submit a claim, victims are encouraged to visit the following link:


Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but not really. It is mid-November and the temperature is 52 degrees. So even though it’s a bit warm, it’s time to turn our attention to winter scams to prevent you from getting burned.

Winter is an especially active time for scammers as we have Thanksgiving and Christmas charity scams as well Christmas gift ones.

But it’s not just holiday scams. There is lots of confusion surrounding health insurance and scammers love confusion so with the new 12/15 deadline they’ve gotten very busy. Finally we also have non-seasonal scams which continue year round.

So on that cheery note, let’s begin.

Why Do Scammers Target People Over 50?

• They have more money usually retirement accounts and home equity
• They grew up in a more trusting time
• They often have specific health needs that can be exploited
• They are too embarrassed to report the crime
• They are more willing to contribute to seemingly good causes

Here Are a Few to Be Aware Of

SSI Disability Fraud

TV ads attracted people to see if they were eligible for SSI. They were sent to doctors in on the scheme who told them they were ineligible. The company then filed applications in their name. The scheme cost taxpayers $25,000,000.

Home Services

This one is much more relevant to HM. The targets were people living alone who appeared not to have any family. Once inside the home, these “caregivers” would trick the residents (or forge their signature) on documents ranging from Power of Attorney to Reverse Mortgages. Soon the homeowner was penniless and evicted.

Mortgage Default Prevention

Hopefully everyone the place to start if you fall behind on your mortgage payments is the bank or mortgage company holding your mortgage. NEVER respond to a TV ad offering to take what you can pay and “negotiate” with the bank on your behalf. Your money is spent as soon as you send it in.

Prepaid Funerals

This one is so simple and obviously well suited to fraud but people signed up anyway.

For a fee of $10,000 up front the company would negotiate a deal with the Funeral Home of your choice and then purchase a dividend paying life insurance policy for you so that your money would earn some money while you were alive. Amazingly, 97,000 people signed up for this which ultimately burned Funeral Homes and insurance companies as well as the victims.

Victim of Love

As the song from Beauty and the Beast says, “A tale as old as time.”

Older men bump into a younger, attractive who begins grooming them for a rip-off later. They begin by telling a sympathetic story of fleeing from abuse or having a sick child etc. After a while she asks if they can help with a little cash for her desperate situation. Once on this path the requests become bigger. Thus, the saying “There’s no fool like an old fool.”

People Over 55 Grew Up In a Different Environment With Some Great Qualities That Scammers Try To Take Advantage Of

In my career in cyber security the greatest threat was not technology but wetware (a/k/a people.) Recognizing this truth scammers have shifted from emphasizing weaknesses in the hardware to people. They try to use their good qualities against them as we’ll see below:


Because you are a hard worker you are busiest at the start of the workday and are most likely to be distracted. Hence bad E-mails are sent first thing in the morning. It will also get worse with the approaching holidays.

To protect yourself slow down a little and don’t fall for subject lines like “Immediate Action Required.” Also, Thursday is peak fraud E-Mail day.


A habit to keep in check these days. Scammers peak your interest with fake reports of celebrity deaths or other events. They also use greed, promising prizes for taking a short survey by clicking on the link.

FREE is a Bad Word

Promises of free stuff is a powerful lure but is usually toxic. Specifically, some of the worst “free” come-ons are for:
• Health and Medical
• Travel and Leisure
• Free Samples

Health and Medical

For seniors, Oct 15th to Dec 7th are prime scam time because it’s Medicare open enrollment. The crooks main goal is identity theft.

Same thing with pop-up free flu shot kiosks. They just want your ssn and other information

Another is medical equipment at “No Cost to You. We Bill Medicare.” This can burn you in several ways. Often the equipment is cheap stuff. If they successfully bill Medicare without a doctor’s prescription, you may end up paying hundreds for a $20 item.

The stuff is free but you have to give them a credit card to cover shipping and perhaps some supporting information as well.

Travel and Leisure

Free tickets or meals from well-known airlines or restaurants are almost always fake. It’s easy to cut and paste famous logos so always check the real company’s website or call their 800 number.

Time share presentations offering luxury cruises or accommodations will cost a lot of non-refundable credit charges for virtually nothing.

Free Trials

Last one. Any ad with the words “Miracle” “Guaranteed” and “Risk Free” are scams. Also, glowing customer reviews can be written by the company itself.

So how do they scam you? First, the 30-day return period starts when you order not when you get the product which you might not get for 30 days. The offers may also have microprint where you are agreeing to accept very expensive products with no returns allowed.

Below is a list of Fake Callers:
Jury Duty Manager You didn’t show up. Pay $400 or go to jail.
Utility Company We will shut off your utility unless you pay immediately.
Property Clerk You have unclaimed property. Just pay this fee and get it.
Ticket Seller We have cheap tickets to a hot show but you must buy now
Bank Verifier Error on your account. Please verify your info so we can fix
Police/Fire Dept We are raising money for them. How much will you give?
IRS You owe back taxes and will go to jail if you don’t pay right now.
VA I’m from the VA. You have new benefits. Just need your information.
Drug Pusher We have new capsules that will halt your disease

The information below is boilerplate for each newsletter for new readers

This leads me to couple of points that readers have asked and I think everyone should know. First, you don’t have to give up your subscription if you move elsewhere. So long as I have a current E-Mail address your subscription will continue. Second, I have been asked to allow other communities to distribute this newsletter. I have absolutely no problem with that. Third, although most of you are already aware of this, a quarterly news is letter is too slow to protect you so for those who use the internet I put alerts out on the Hershysmill web site as I become aware of them. The web address is

New Hi-Tech Threat to Locked Cars

Recently, I learned of a new way thieves can get into your locked car without breaking anything. The trick is simple. They have a reader that records your car’s lock code when you remotely lock your doors. Once you’ve gone they simply transmit the lock code and your car opens.

This isn’t quite as easy as it sounds as they have to be somewhere near your car. So be alert for people sitting in cars near where you park.

For total safety, manually lock your car doors and they can’t do anything.


After decades of violating the law, MEDICARE will finally stop using your Social Security Number in an attempt to reduce fraud. The new cards will start rolling out in 2018. First warning. You do not have to pay for them or give anyone any information Anyone who contacts you asking for information or money is a scammer.

Be aware though that even attempts to reduce fraud actually increase scam attempts. That’s because people are frightened of losing their benefits.

Here is the first rule that if followed should be enough to keep you safe.

I CANNOT REPEAT THIS ENOUGH BECAUSE SOMEONE ALWAYS MISSES IT. BIG COMPANIES AND GOVERNMENT AGENCIES DO NOT E-Mail you. They send US Mail. If they call you, write down what they say, but don’t answer anything. HANG UP IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARD and call the 800 number on the website, NOT the E-Mail.

Why do fraudsters want your SSN? With it they can file a fake tax return for a refund. Do you really want to deal with the IRS on this? They can open credit cards in your name and they can fraudulently bill Medicare for services in your name. Finally, worst of all they might get medical services in your name and you could be responsible.

How about some tips on protecting your current Medicare card.

  1. Make a copy.Black out the first 5 digits but write an emergency contact number on the back.
  2. Keep it with you. Don’t leave it in a Gym locker or your car.


What to Do If You Fell For the Microsoft “You Have a Problem” Scam

I CANNOT REPEAT THIS ENOUGH BECAUSE SOMEONE ALWAYS MISSES IT. BIG COMPANIES AND GOVERNMENT AGENCIES DO NOT E-Mail you. They send US Mail. If they call you, write down what they say, but don’t answer anything. HANG UP IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARD and call the 800 number on the website, NOT the E-Mail.

The remote viewing is very worrisome because of the time involved. He may have copies of every unencrypted file on your computer which could include passwords, usernames, as well as the indicated SSNs and DOBs.

So here are some (painful) suggestions:

  1. With regard to the person who is looking at your computer, I would suggest discussing with him restoring it to the original factory settings and anything else he  can do to clean BUT not until you have extracted all your current userids, passwords, logins etc. so you can change them all.
  2. I would IMMEDIATELY notify EQUIFAX, TRANS UNION, and EXPERIAN of the theft and put a FREEZE on your credit file at all three places.
  3. I would contact East Goshen police and see if they will accept your report of stolen credit card information. That will save you money with the credit bureaus and help with future thefts.
  4. IMMEDIATELY contact any credit card issuers and cancel existing cards and get new ones issued.
  5. Sign up for FRAUD ALERTS  with all three credit bureaus. These may be free if you have a police report.
  6. Delete all your E-Mail accounts and sign up for new ones with strong passwords. You will lose some incoming E-Mails but it’s worth it. You can also call friends or use your new E-Mail to let them know of the change you made.
  7. Be very very wary of phone calls or E-mails offering help. They are not legitimate but scammers sell the names people they have scammed to other follow on scammers. Only deal with websites you know. DO NOT click on ANY links in E-mails.
  8. Finally, the hard part. You will have to cancel any web site IDs you have and establish new ones with your new E-Mail address and passwords.

Hope this helps but be on guard.



The E-Mail to avoid is from Eric Morgan re: Your Messages. When you open it, he tells you that he is from FACEBOOK and you have unseen messages. There is a link to view them, a link to ask questions and he is even polite enough to give you a link to unsubscribe. By the way, links are words (in blue) to click on.

Pressing any off these links will download malware on your computer so DON’T. Also be aware that FACEBOOK doesn’t offer tech support.




Home buyers and mortgage applicants tend to have significant information on file at the three credit  bureaus and could run into complications soon or down the road.

Take this scenario: Say your Equifax file was looted but you’ve done little or nothing to detect fraudulent activity on one or more of your credit accounts. You sign a contract to buy a house, and you apply for a mortgage. The lender pulls your credit and confronts you with shocking news: Your FICO credit score is too low for you to qualify for the loan because you’ve been running up too much debt on one or more accounts. Your “utilization ratio” on your available credit is too high, and that has depressed your score. Or there’s a newly established account in your files that has put you deep in debt, even though you had nothing to do with it.

It turns out that financial thieves have been racking up thousands of dollars in debts at your expense, and now — smack in the middle of a major lifetime investment — you’re stuck with having to get the file corrected, which takes time and can be a pain. In the meantime, what happens to your purchase contract? Will the sellers bear with you, essentially putting off the transaction indefinitely and possibly blowing up their own plans to move into another house on a specific date? It could all get really messy.

Another scenario: Say your lender already has approved you for a mortgage or a home-equity loan. Before the scheduled closing, the loan officer does what has become standard practice in the mortgage industry in recent years — runs another credit check to make sure no new debts have been added since your application. But in the meantime, identity-theft criminals have created a new account or run up charges on one or more of your credit cards, knocking your debt-to-income ratio out of sight.



Today I received th following scam E-Mail from “PAYPAL regarding the fact that my credit card was about to expire and that I needed to contact them immediately to renew my card.


Several things alerted me to the fact that this was a scam. First, if my credit card was about to expire my credit card company would send me a new one well before that. Second the last four digits of the expiring card is not a card I use with Paypal. Finally, I am also sure that Paypal would never send this type of message.


Below is the E-Mail without images:

Your card is about to expire

Dear Allan Pomerantz,

We noticed your card ending in 9890 is about to expire. Please update your card expiration date and the card security code (CSC) as soon as possible so you can continue using it with PayPal. Be sure to activate your new card with your bank first.

Update card details

If you haven’t received your new card yet, please save this email and click the button when you have your new card. If you’ve already updated your PayPal account with your new card information, please disregard this email.
And remember, you can always log in directly to PayPal to update your card information in the Profile or Settings areas.


Updates to Previous Post on Equifax Hack. Updates in Italics



I posted this column the day after the Equifax hack became public knowledge to help you deal with the breach as it affects you. While the advice below remains accurate, I have become aware of some issues for you to consider when deciding if it is right for you.

Here are the three updates:

  1. If Equifax says they believe your personal information has not been impacted that is only a partial truth. What they mean is that they haven’t seen any suspicious activity from the time the hack was discovered (May) until they last checked (July.) this should not reassure you for two reasons. Misuse of your information may have happened before May and more significantly the people who stole your data may wait six months to a year to use it so the heat dies down.


  1. If you click the ACCEPT button you agree to waive your right to sue Equifax or join a Class Action Lawsuit. Although Equifax says this won’t apply in this case the contract language overrides any verbal statements. I am not making a recommendation here, only giving you the alternatives.


  1. Equifax wants more personal information. Are You comfortable giving it to them?



This hack is a big deal despite Equifax’s ridiculous claim that their core database was not breached. The crooks have your social security number, address, driver’s license, and birth day. They don’t need anything else. They can open new accounts in your name and if they change the address you might never know they did so.

I have followed Equifax’s instructions so I can let you know what to do to receive a free year of identity theft protection and credit file monitoring product, called TrustedID Premier. Please note that EVERY Equifax customer is eligible for this service even if Equifax doesn’t know if you were hacked.

First, go to the website You will need your social security number. After you enter your last name and last six digits of your SSN hit continue. That will take you to another site for enrollment. You will the receive an enrollment date and you will be told to return to the site ON THAT DATE to continue your enrollment. For security purposes, you will be asked to re-enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. To enroll in TrustedID Premier, you will be asked to provide additional information to verify your identity. You also will need to provide a valid email address in order to complete the process. Within a few days, you will receive an email with a link to activate TrustedID Premier. Please be sure to check your spam and junk folders if you do not receive your activation email within that time frame.

As a word of warning the scammers will be on this like a dog on a bone. So please be very wary of any E-Mails, texts, or phone calls you get from “Equifax.” ALWAYS call their 800 number to check.

 Here are some other things you can do to help protect yourself:

Credit Freeze / Fraud Alert

This is the most important thing you can do. It will prevent anyone from opening credit in your name. The drawback is this includes you but you can easily turn it off temporarily with a phone call and your personal pin. There is usually a $10 charge to set it up and to suspend it but Equifax may suspend it. Even if they don’t it will be the best $10 you’ve ever spent.

The three credit bureaus and their phone numbers are:

  • Equifax        800-349-9960
  • Experian       888-397-3742
  • TransUnion  888-909-8872

Be Aware of Any Suspicious Activity on Your Accounts

These could be late payments on accounts you don’t have or changes to non-financial accounts.