Category: FraudAlert

SCAM ALERT – AVOID TODAY’S PHISHING E-MAIL

SCAM ALERT – AVOID TODAY’S PHISHING E-MAIL

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.

 

HOW EQUIFAX DATA THEFT COULD AFFECT YOU OR YOUR KIDS WHEN BUYING A HOMEHOW EQUIFAX DATA THEFT COULD AFFECT YOU OR YOUR KIDS WHEN BUYING A HOME

HOW EQUIFAX DATA THEFT COULD AFFECT YOU OR YOUR KIDS WHEN BUYING A HOME

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.

 

NEW PAYPAL SCAM

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.


Sincerely,
PayPal

Updates to Previous Post on Equifax Hack. Updates in Italics

 

WHAT TO DO ABOUT EQUIFAX HACK – UPDATED

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 www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. 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 www.equifaxsecurity2017.com 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.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT EQUIFAX HACK

WHAT TO DO ABOUT EQUIFAX HACK 

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, drivers 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 www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. 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 www.equifaxsecurity2017.com ON THAT DATE to continue your enrrollment. 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.

Beware of Scams by Text (SMISHING)

Beware of Scams by Text (SMISHING) 

Smishing is when scammers use text messaging to lure targets into sharing credit card numbers and other personal information. The name comes from combining Short Message Service or SMS (the technology used for text messages on cell phones) with phishing.

How it works:

  • Scammers send hundreds, or even thousands, of text messages at a time in the hope that even just a few recipients take the bait.The text is urgent – you need to click on a link or call a number to deal with an issue like suspicious banking account activity or perhaps to address the suspension of an account or service. Or it could claim you’ve won a prize and you need to act right away.The ultimate goal is to get you to share sensitive information – your bank account number, or user names and passwords – and to use this information to steal from you.

    What you should know:

    • Scammers are banking on you responding quickly to a text message – we tend to trust them over emails.It’s easy for scammers to make the text look like it’s coming from a legitimate phone number.

      What you should do:

      • Be wary of unsolicited text messages – when in doubt, delete.Don’t respond to suspicious texts, even to tell them to leave you alone. Responding verifies to the crook that your number is valid, and that puts you at risk for being targeted by other scams.

        When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share all these alerts with friends and family.

      • Thanks to our friends at AARP

Don’t Fall Victim To Harvey Flood Scams

Don’t Fall Victim To Harvey Flood Scams

As sure as the sun comes up in the morning, every time there is a calamity that will cause people to want to help by donating money, scammers are at work before just about anyone else. Here a some tips from NPR to help you avoid being fleeced.

As Harvey, the largest rainstorm in the history of the continental United States, floods homes in Texas and Louisiana, many Americans want to send money for relief efforts.

The need for that help will be enormous: FEMA Administrator Brock Long has said more than 195,000 people already have registered for disaster assistance.

Many reputable organizations already are delivering food and care to those in need. But experts on charitable giving say donors need to be wary: con artists are also after your money. Scam charities raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the aftermath of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, and they are likely to try it again now.

Here’s are tips from legitimate sources, such as the Federal Trade Commission’s web site, on how to safely donate to Harvey relief efforts.

 

Know where your money is going.

Contribute to organizations that have an experience assisting in disaster relief, and be skeptical of charities that pop up solely in response to Harvey or those with unfamiliar names. You can check out charities with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.

 

Never give out cash.

Give your donation by credit card or a check made payable to your charity of choice.

 

Understand crowdfunding.

Scammers may claim to represent legitimate organizations online. The crowdfunding website GoFundMe created a Medium post about safety measures being taken to protect those donating to relief efforts, and all verified GoFundMe Harvey-related campaigns as hosted at an official page.

 

Check a charity’s website before you text a donation.

Confirm that the charity has authorized donations via text message — and keep in mind that your contribution may not reach the charity until after your phone bill is paid. It may be faster to donate directly to the charity.

 

Be wary of clicking on links or opening attachments in e-mails.

Unless you are sure you know who sent it, don’t open attachments that could install malware on your computer. And don’t assume that emails you get — or social media messages you see — have really been posted by the legitimate source. They might be fake.

 

Report suspicious organizations.

Be skeptical if an organization will not send you information about their programs and finances: any legitimate organization will be glad to provide you with this information. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance has charity reports on thousands of U.S. charities. If you believe a scam may be taking place, you can contact the BBB to report what you know.

BANK FUNDS RECOVERY SCAM

Here’s one recently received by a resident who checked with me about this E-Mail she received. It is a fraud but it’s a fairly clever one. In PA if you leave money inactive in a bank account for a defied period of time the money must be turned over to the state. The state then enters the money in a database with the owners name. This database is searchable and if find money in it that is yours you can claim it. The important point here is that the state does not reach out to you.

Our resident received the E-Mail shown below. There are two parts to it. The first is the alleged amount of money they have discovered for her which she claims is not true. The second is the 15% fee they charge.

The first issue here is that you can go on the PA website and collect the money (if it exists) yourself at no charge. The second, and more significant part, is that you have to return the claim forms to them for submission. Those forms contain all the information scammers need for identity theft so don’t do it.

 

 

 

Hackers’ latest scam: tricking home buyers into wiring them settlement funds

 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news — but there is yet another scheme con artists are using to swindle you out of money.

Here’s how it goes down.

You’re about to settle on a home. You get an e-mail from your real estate agent or from the title company, requesting funds to be wired to an account for settlement. The e-mail purports a last-minute change in wiring instructions.

You dutifuly wire the money using the new instructions.

Then, the call comes from the title company the day before settlement, asking why you have not sent your funds for settlement. This is the moment you learn that you have sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to a thief.

This scheme is not new. But a recent resurgence of wire fraud in the real estate industry, and the increase in its sophistication, prompted the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and many national title insurance companies to issue warning bulletins to the industry.

 

We don’t have any hard numbers about how much buyers have lost, but we do have an increasing number of reports that it is happening,” said Katie Johnson, general counsel of the NAR.

According to Johnson, the hackers are monitoring e-mails and waiting patiently to determine what is the best scam. They realized that real estate transactions involve a large amount of money right before closing.

“The scammers are following information about transactions online on the MLS [multiple-listing service] or in the public records,” said Matthew Alegi, a partner at Potomac law firm Shulman Rogers. “It is only a matter of time before someone local gets hit with a six-figure cybertheft.”

Alegi and his staff foiled a recent attempt by a hacker to have proceeds of a property sale wired to the hacker’s account.

“We received an e-mail saying that the proceeds should be wired rather than mailed,” Alegi said. “Our title processor checked with the seller and learned that the e-mail had not come from him.”

According to Alegi, if you wire money to a wrong account, the bank will not reimburse you. “There is usually no recourse to get your money back,” Alegi said.

These schemes are getting harder to catch. The hackers have improved their grammar, and they obtain an almost identical e-mail address, making it very difficult to identify it as a scam.

Patrick Weed, broker of Patrick Realty Company in Kensington, and his buyer client also prevented a potential $20,000 loss.

“I received a call from my buyer asking why I e-mailed her asking for an additional deposit of $20,000 for her purchase in Olney,” Weed said. “She told me that she responded to my e-mail, and that I sent her an e-mail back.”

The e-mails stated that the money was necessary to ensure a smooth and easy transaction.

Weed said he never sent his client an e-mail asking for an additional $20,000. The hacker monitored his e-mail and was able to garner exact details about the transaction. The hacker provided wiring instructions to a bank in Texas.

 

Unfortunately, some people have fallen for this scheme and have lost money.

“Someone in Chicago recently lost $130,000, and in Texas there was a recent loss of $30,000,” said Johnson. “It is prevalent, and it is increasing.”

“We have to be more vigilant than ever,” Alegi said. “Consumers need to be aware. Brokers need to be aware. Title companies need to be aware.”

Here are some tips for buyers and sellers to protect themselves from becoming a victim to wire fraud:

· Never send any sensitive financial information via e-mail, including banking information, routing numbers or PINs.

· Prior to wiring any funds, you should contact the intended recipient via a verified telephone number and confirm that the wiring information is accurate. Do not rely on telephone numbers or Web site addresses provided within an unverified e-mail.

· Clean out your e-mail account on a regular basis. Your e-mails may establish patterns in your business practice over time that hackers can use against you.

· Change your usernames and passwords on a regular basis.

· Make sure to implement the most up-to-date firewall and anti-virus technologies on your server or computer.

· Report any fraudulent activity to the FBI via its Internet Crime Complaint Center.

·

· [Foreclosure crisis spawns a wave of rescue scams]

·

· [How to protect your personal data in a real estate transaction]

Thanks to the Washington Post

ARE YOU A SCAM ARTIST’S DREAM?

You might consider yourself quite ordinary but crooks are looking for you if you fit the following 

AGE: 55+ 

HOME: Where you live makes you a more desirable target. Fortunately, Florida seems to be the favorite state but don’t get too comfortable just yet. Many of us winter in Florida and not being #1 is not a big deal. Also, the reason Florida is number 1 is the concentration of older people who scammers target. 

RURAL VS. URBAN 

Federal agencies have found that living in a rural area makes you more of a target 

EDUCATION 

A higher level of education won’t make you less of a target but gives you a better chance of avoiding the scam unless you are too smart for your own good 

LONELINESS 

People who live alone are a prime target, especially for telephone or on-line social group scammers. The key red flag here is when they ask you to leave the group site for a more intimate site.

 

Based on an AARP article