Archive for the ‘Scams’ Category

Get paid to drive your car? Nah

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

The FBI’s Internet crime center said it’s received several complaints involving a scam that convince’s the victims they can make big bucks advertising a company’s logo on their personal vehicle while they go about their normal daily routine. Those scammed reported they responded to an online posting seeking car owners who would be willing to have a vinyl decal or auto “wrap” on their vehicles advertising companies such as Coca Cola, Monster Energy drink, Carlsberg beer, Heineken Co., and Red Bull.
Victims were advised they would be paid an average of $400-$600 per week inexchange for driving around with vinyl advertising signs wrapped around their vehicle.
Those interested in participating were asked to provide their contact information
and vehicle details. They were promised an up-front payment, which would be sent
by check or money order. Those who fell for the scam received a check or money order for more than the promised amount. They were directed to cash it and wire the difference to a third party, who was supposed to be the graphics designer to pay for the cost of the design. The checks and money orders turned out to counterfeit and the criminals, once again, were able to convert fraudulent checks and money orders into untraceable cash, leaving the victim responsible for the bank’s losses.

Be wary of mortgage settlement scams

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has warned Michigan residents of a scam in which criminals are telling victims of the foreclosure crisis they can help them receive benefits from the national mortgage settlement for a fee.
“Do not provide personal information or pay money to anyone who claims they need it to help you access your mortgage settlement benefits,” Mr. Schuette said. “Eligible citizens will be contacted by a professional settlement administrator or their own bank to receive free relief. If you have been contacted by a scammer, file a complaint with my office immediately.”
Schuette advised that Michigan citizens will not have to pay or provide any personal information to receive assistance under the settlement. He warned that citizens should be wary of anyone who offers to “speed your settlement” or “help you gain access” to benefits. Such claims are false, said Schuette, because the banks and an appointed professional settlement administrator will already have access to all the required information.
He encouraged citizens to file complaints regarding settlement scams with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by going to www.michigan.gov/ag and clicking “Complaints.”
The mortgage settlement is signed by five of the nation’s leading mortgage servicers, and consumers may call the following toll-free hotlines for additional information:
Bank of America – 1-877-488-7814; Citigroup – 1-866-272-4749; J.P. Morgan Chase – 1-866-372-3212;Wells Fargo – 1-800-288-3212; and GMAC/Ally – 1-800-766-4622.

Scam sites prey on unemployed

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

The State of Michigan is warning unemployed workers to avoid using non-official State of Michigan Web sites that solicit fees or personal information in order to apply for unemployment benefits.
Recently, residents have reported receiving solicitations by e-mail where they are asked to provide personal and financial information or are charged fees to file unemployment claims.
The Unemployment iAgency urges claimants to file unemployment insurance claims using only the official State of Michigan website at www.michigan.gov/uia.
When filing a claim for unemployment benefits, individuals must be sure they are on the actual State of Michigan Web site. If a website requests credit card information or attempts to register you for a kit for state or federal unemployment benefits or work search services, know that this did not originate from Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.

Is your Verizon bill shockingly high? Maybe not

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

If you get your Verizon bill e-mailed and the total is shockingly large, it might be bogus.
Phony e-mail bills are being sent to many Verizon customers that look a lot like the a genuine company online notification. But the amount of the bill usually is more than $900, enough to cause customers to panic.
The problem is the bill is phony and clicking on any of the links in the e-mail will infect the recipient’s computer to malware.
To see what the bogus notification looks like and how to tell if the bill is bogus, click here.

FTC cracks down on mortgage scammers

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

The Federal Trade Commission has halted the operation of a California-based firm that promised home loan modifications and other housing assistance to financially distressed consumers who agreed to pay them fat fees.
Consumers were asked to pay between $795 and $1,595 for a loan audit that supposedly would find lending violations and force mortgage lenders to ease the terms of a mortgage.
The FTC alleges that the California outfit helped no one and misled consumers. Its services were marketed in part through three Web sites and via telephone.
For details on the FTC’s action, click here.

The perils of online tax filing …

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Just when the Internal Revenue Service has convinced most everyone they should file their income tax returns on line, crooks across the country are using laptops and free Wi-Fi connections to steal identities and use the names of legitimate taxpayers to file fraudulent online tax returns.
First, thieves obtain Social Security numbers and other personal information from insiders at hospitals, doctor’s offices, car dealerships or anywhere the information is stored. Then, they file an online tax return using the real taxpayer’s name and a fictitious income. In most cases, the criminals buy a debit card so the IRS can issue the refund on that card, although some thieves have also gotten their returns on actual Treasury checks.
For details, check out this CNN report.

FTC cracks down on bogus bill collectors

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Two firms that shook down consumers for non-payment of payday loans they never received have been shut down at the request of the Federal Trade Commission.
American Credit Crunchers and Ebeeze made millions of collection calls, originating in India, and took more than $5 million from victims across the U.S., FTC officials say.
Often pretending to be law enforcement or other government authorities, the callers would threaten to immediately arrest and jail consumers if they did not agree to make a payment on a delinquent payday loan, the FTC’s court papers stated.
The callers typically demanded more than $300, and sometimes as much as $2,000. At other times, the callers said they were filing a large lawsuit against the consumer because of the delinquent payday loan or would have the consumer fired from his or her job, according to the FTC.
But the consumers did not owe money. Either the payday loan debts did not exist or the defendants had no authority to collect them because the loans were owed to someone else, according to the FTC.
“This is a brazen operation based on pure fraud, and the FTC is committed to shutting it down,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Consumers should not be pressured into paying debt they don’t remember owing.”
Varang K. Thaker, owner of the two firms, is being charged with violating the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Over the last two years, consumers have filed more than 4,000 complaints with the FTC and state attorneys general about fraudulent debt collection calls.
The FTC contends that Thaker obtained information – often including Social Security or bank account numbers – about consumers who had inquired about, applied for, or obtained online payday loans, then had his callers contact them and use deceptive statements and threats to convince them to pay debts that were not owed or that he was not authorized to collect.

Bogus financial e-mails are epidemic

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Bogus e-mailed notices from scammers masquerading as your bank, credit union or other financial institution seem to be reaching the epidemic level.
The Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR) warned that several types of phishing scams related to financial institutions and transactions are turning up.
Phishing is an attempt, through electronic communication, to acquire personal information such as Social Security numbers, account numbers, usernames and passwords by posing as a legitimate entity.
“Consumers need to have their guard up 24/7 and be cautious of any electronic communication appearing to be from a financial institution,” said OFIR Commissioner Kevin Clinton. “Creative cyber crooks are using Web sites, e-mails and text messages to entice account holders into divulging sensitive personal information.”
There are number of different variations of financial phishing scams, including:
Scammers claiming to be banks or credit unions, have phished for victims by using consumer e-mail addresses that contain identifying employment and educational information. Through e-mails, scammers have sought personal financial information by notifying consumers that there are issues with their accounts.
Posing as a legitimate financial institution, fraudsters have targeted consumers using cell phone area codes to send text messages notifying them that that there is problem with their account. Consumers are instructed to call toll-free numbers where they are asked to provide personal information. This tactic may also be called “smishing.”
Scam artists are using many different types of fraudulent e-mails claiming to be from the FDIC, the Federal Reserve and other federal financial agencies. The bogus e-mails have included notifications regarding the closing of accounts, problems with financial transactions and issues involving wire transfers. In many instances, the e-mails direct consumers to phony Web sites containing malware, which infects computers and attempts to steal personal information.
OFIR suggests these tips to help consumers avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:
If you get an email, text message or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on any links.
If you are concerned about your financial accounts, contact your institution using a telephone number you know to be genuine or visit the institution in person. You can confirm information regarding financial institutions by contacting OFIR at 877-999-6442 or checking online at www.michigan.gov/ofir
Don’t e-mail personal or financial information.
Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges.
Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from e-mails you receive, regardless of who sent them.
If Michigan consumers think they may have uncovered or become a victim of a financial phishing scam, they should call OFIR’s toll-free consumer hotline 877-999-6442.

Watch e-mail for phony traffic tickets

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

A new scam that might be coming to your e-mail box: Bogus traffic tickets.
The Federal Trade Commission issues a warning.

Scam e-mails invoke BBB name

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Two spam e-mails that invoke the name of the Better Business Bureau are spreading on the Web today and they might carry computer viruses.
The first begins with “To the Urgent Attention of the Owner/Manager” and seems to originate with a BBB in Utah.
The second starts with “Thank you for supporting your BBB” and requests the recipient to fill out an online form. It has a mailing address of DuPont, Wash.
The last time such messages were circulating, clicking on the links within them downloaded viruses.
Anyone receiving such messages should delete them, ensure that their computer virus protection software is current and run a scan on their computers.

If the National Medical Office calls, hang up

Friday, January 6th, 2012

If you get a call from an outfit calling itself the National Medical Office, hang up.
Mary VanDyke, 81, of Temperance is among the seniors who has been getting some of those calls. The caller wants to send her husband a new national medical card.
All that’s needed, the caller says, are the bank account numbers where the VanDyke’s Social Security checks are deposited.
The caller verifies her address and asks for account numbers.
The caller ID on her phone shows the call originating in New York. The caller is a man with a foreign accent. The phone number is the same (347) 418-0487.
She figured it was a scam and refused to give out any personal information
Research on the Web shows that the telephone number where the call originated and others that only are a digit or two different apparently are being used for a range of ruses, including people posing as collectors for payday loan offices.
Others who have reported receiving such calls alternately have described the callers as having an Indian, Middle Eastern or Asian accent and the callers become rude when questioned about why they were calling and how they got the name of the person they were calling.
The FBI says seniors often are targeted by telemarketing scammers because they often are more trusting than others and often have financial resources that scammers are eager to tap. The agency advises seniors simply to say “no thanks” and hang up. Seniors and others also can prevent sales calls by registering their telephone number on the federal “Do Not Call” registry. They can do so by calling (888) 382-1222 from the phone that they wish to register or can register it by visiting www.donotcall.gov online.

FTC: Bogus Do-Not-Call calls being made

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

The Federal Trade Commission wants consumers to know that scammers recently have been making phone calls claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry.
The bogus callers offer to provide an opportunity to sign up for the Registry. These calls are not coming from the Registry or the FTC, however, and consumers should not respond to them.
To add a number to the Registry for free at any time, consumers can call toll-free 1-888-382-1222 from the phone they wish to register, or go to www.donotcall.gov to sign up.

Bogus BBB e-mail targets businesses

Friday, November 25th, 2011

The Better Business Bureau is cautioning businesses and consumers about an e-mail that is purporting to be from a bbb.org e-mail address about a recently filed complaint.
The e-mail contains a dangerous attachment regarding a complaint and appears to direct recipients to the BBB Web site. BBB officials say this is a scam and it does not send complaints as attachments via e-mail.
The e-mail appears to come from a fake BBB employee claiming that the recipient needs to review this matter and advise the BBB of their position. From there, the e-mail appears to direct the recipient to the BBB Web site, but actually routes it to an outside link.
The e-mail attachment and link are malicious and we are strongly advising to not open or click them.
Those receiving such an e-mail, please disregard its message, and report any information received to the BBB, and then delete it. If you have clicked on the link, immediately do a virus scan.

Scam uses bogus BBB sweepstakes

Monday, November 7th, 2011

The Better Business Bureau is cautioning businesses and consumers about a Web site and phone calls that are purporting to be from BBB about sweepstakes’ winnings. This is a scam – BBB is not conducting a sweepstakes contest.
A complaint filed by a Virginia consumer with BBB Richmond first identified the scam. The calls appear to come from a fake BBB employee claiming that the customer has won $2.5 million and a Mercedes Benz. The representative directs customers to http://www.better-businessbureau.org/, which contains misinformation and fraudulent claims. BBB is urging consumers not to visit this site. The official BBB Web site is www.bbb.org.
Should you receive such a call, please disregard its message, and report any information received to BBB’s Scam Portal. BBB lawyers are working to find out who is behind this and will take all appropriate action to protect its trademark.

United Commercial Credit shut down

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

The state Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR) has shut down an operation claiming to be a Detroit mortgage company called “United Commercial Credit” by ordering it to cease and desist from doing business.
OFIR believes that the bogus company, through its Web site, http://www.unitedcommercialcredit.com was posing as a legitimate mortgage and lending company in an attempt to steal consumers’ money and identities. The fraudulent company was encouraging customers to apply for loans by providing personal information including Social Security and financial account numbers.
“This looks like a classic advance fee scam, where victims are enticed into paying upfront fees for services they never receive,” OFIR Commissioner Kevin Clinton said. “OFIR will remain committed to protecting consumers and shutting down these fraudulent companies.”
OFIR contacted United Commercial Credit’s Web site host and the Web site has been shut down.
After a consumer complaint, OFIR investigated and found that United Commercial Credit was not licensed under the state’s Mortgage Brokers, Lenders and Servicers Licensing Act.
To find out if a mortgage company is licensed to do business in the state, consumers can contact OFIR toll-free at 877-999-6442 or visit the agency’s website www.michigan.gov/ofir and click “Who We Regulate.”
To view OFIR’s cease and desist order, visit: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/lara/United_Commercial_Credit_-_CD_1_367640_7.pdf