Scam artists frequently target the elderly. Help protect your elderly friends and family by being alert for signs that your loved one may be the victim of a scam.
Are they receiving a large volume of junk mail? Is a large percentage of that mail sweepstakes entries, lottery and charity pitches?
Has there been an increase in "toll free" calls or calls from area codes unfamiliar to the family?
Have they mentioned sending money for a prize but have not received their winnings?
scams & Fraud
Callers posing as PC Tech
Friend or Family Member in Distress (Grandparent scam)
Green Dot - MoneyPak Scam
Pinterest Phishing Scam
Magazine Sales - Door-to-Door
Tax Refund Anticipation Loan
Telephone Collection - Payday loans
Telephone - Long Distance
Work from Home
You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a Microsoft technician saying there is a problem with your computer. They will tell you to go to your computer and talk you through how to provide shared access. They then take over your computer and will put in colored warnings making you believe that something is wrong with your computer.
They will tell you that, before they can fix the problem, you will need to buy an expensive extended warranty.
Microsoft will NEVER call you and tell you there is something wrong with your computer and request access to it.
Think your credit card in your pocket is safe from thieves.
In November 2011, federal bank regulators ordered certain mortgage servicers to identify consumers whose homes faced foreclosure between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010. These consumers should have received a letter by the end of 2011 indicating that they may request an independent review of their foreclosure. If the review finds that the homeowner suffered financial injury caused by deficiencies in the foreclosure process, they may be eligible for compensation. There is no cost associated with the federal government's Independent Foreclosure Review program.
Unfortunately, scam artists are also contacting Oregon consumers and offering to conduct an "Independent Foreclosure Home Loan Review" or a "securitization review" for a fee. Attorney General John Kroger warns Oregonians to steer clear of independent foreclosure review scams. Please see memo for additional information.
A scammer acquires just enough information about a friend or family member to be able to impersonate them during a brief phone call or in an email or text message. They then claim to be a victim of theft, legal problems or travel arrangements gone wrong, state that they are stranded and need you to wire them money as soon as possible.
If you receive such a call or message, find out as much information as you can then contact a direct relative to find out if the person really is on vacation or possibly in trouble. You could also ask the caller a specific question that requires more than basic knowledge about the family, that only the real friend or relative would know. For example ask "What is your mom's name? What is your favorite pet's name? Where were you born?" Ask for a phone number.
For more information on how to protect yourself from the the Grandparent Scam visit AARP.MoneyPaks are reloadable debit cards normally used to add money to prepaid cards or PayPal accounts or to make same-day payments. Thieves, scammers and owners of phony websites are using the cards to cheat customers out of their money. If someone is asking you to purchase or pay for something using a Green Dot MoneyPak card, it is most likely a scam. Check the Green Dot MoneyPak site for a list of approved MoneyPak partners. Payment with a MoneyPak number is not a secure money transfer and impossible to trace. It is the equivalent of paying cash and the transaction cannot be reversed. See the BBB article for additional information.
If you did not buy a lottery ticket, you cannot win a lottery. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS. If you receive a check for a lottery you did not enter, it is counterfeit. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS.
If you receive a letter, email or phone call telling you that you have won millions in an overseas lottery but you just need to wire a few hundred dollars to cover the taxes - IT IS A SCAM. Payments will only lead to requests for more money.
Pinterest is the latest darling of the social networking world, which makes it the perfect target for a phishing scam.
If you don't already know it, the site, as its name kind of suggests, is an online cork board where you collect and "pin"
images of things you like by category.
You can "follow" others too, for instance, friends or people who share your hobbies and interests.
You can repin their pictures onto your board, and even pin your pictures on others' boards. Clicking on any of the images will take you to the website it came from.
Membership of Pinterest is growing by thousands every day and the scammers have picked up on this.
Their trick works by getting Pinterest users to spread images linked to phishing sites.
Users may not realize they've been scammed and then repin the phishing pictures on friends' boards -- or the friends themselves pick them up.
They're usually images promoting free offers or gift cards in return for completing a survey.
Recent examples have used Starbucks Coffee, Coach leatherware and Red Velvet cakes and, in at least one instance, claimed to be a promo direct from Pinterest.
In every case, clicking the image takes you to a malicious website that asks for personal details.
Action: Remember the "too good to be true" rule and, generally, steer clear of supposed offers like this.
Reports about door-to-door magazine sales have cropped up again in the Spokane Valley and may show up in our area as well. This group had been around before - ACI aka Atlantic Circulation, Inc. They generally show up in an area in a white van with kids and go door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions. They may talk about raising money for college or a class trip. No magazines are ever delivered. For more information about this group, see the Better Business Bureau report.
The week of July 12, 2010, the Kennewick police department reported that two people had fallen victim to a roofing scam. In both cases the scammer took money and did not complete the promised services. Please see the Better Business Bureau article for more information.
Warning signs of a scam:
- Certification or references that cannot be verified.
- Offers a price that is only good if you sign today.
- Accepts only cash and requires a large deposit or the entire cost up front.
- Does not provide a written contract or bid.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
How to avoid being the victim of a roofing scam in the first place.
- The State of Washington Labor & Industries site provides a great Guide to Hiring a Contractor.
- Check certifications - make sure the contractor has met the state legal requirements, is bonded and insured. Look up your contractor with the State and with the Better Business Bureau.
- Search the list of violators of contractor registration, whether they are licensed or not.
- Get a lien release. If you do not have a lien release and your contractor does not pay his supplier for materials, you will be liable for the unpaid amount even if you paid your contractor for those supplies.
- Get it in writing. Get as detailed a written contract as possible.
Do you have a tax refund coming? Don't be tempted to take a Refund Anticipation Loan to get your money right away. A Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) is not from the IRS. They are short-term high-interest rate loans from the company preparing your return. Interest rates and administration fees on RALs can run from 40% to over 700% of your refund. Yes, you could end up owing the tax preparer more money than you receive in your refund. See the Better Business Bureau for additional information.
In this scam a caller claims that the victim is delinquent in a payday loan and must repay the loan to avoid legal consequences. The caller claims to be a representative of the FBI, Federal Legislative Department, various law firms, or other legitimate-sounding agency. They claim to be collecting debts for companies such as United Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Net, and other Internet check cashing services. Please see flyer for additional information.
A new twist on an old scam. This scam is now affecting wireless phone users. Your cell phone rings once or twice and then disconnects the call. The number appears as a missed call with a typical domestic telephone number. Residential wired telephone users receive a message on their phone urging you to call a number with an "649," "809," "284," "876," or some other area code to collect a prize, find out about a sick relative, or engage in sex talk. These are actually international pay-per-call numbers. (You can do a search for an area code at yellowpages.com, click on "Other Lookups: Area Code - if the lookup shows "We didn't find any results for xxx," it is a scam.)
If you call the number provided, you will be connected to a number outside of the United states, incur charges at international rates and may incur pay-per-call charges as well.
Please see Federal Communications Commission Consumer Advisory bulletin for additional information.
Advertisers offer kits that enable you to make money stuffing envelopes, craft assembly, data entry, mystery shopper, medical billing, posting links on the internet, or other tasks that you will be paid for. All you need to do is pay for the kit, materials, software and you're on your way to making money from the comfort of your own home. Do not send money. Legitimate employers will not request money to hire you or ask you to pay for materials to get started.
If part of the process of getting a job requires sending money, it is probably a scam. Check references, research the company, check with the Better Business Bureau.