Fraud and ScamsCheck Your Receipts “Cash Back” Theft Scams

This was a forward sent through email that everyone needs to be aware of.  

It happened at Wal-Mart (Supercenter Store #**************, Houston , TX a month ago.

I bought a bunch of stuff, over $150, & I glanced at my receipt as the cashier was handing me the bags. I saw a cash-back of $40. I told her I didn’t request a cash back & to delete it.

She said I’d have to take the $40 because she couldn’t delete it. I told her to call a supervisor.

Supervisor came & said I’d have to take it! I said NO! Taking the $40 would be a cash advance against my Discover & I wasn’t paying interest on a cash advance!!!!! If they couldn’t delete it then they would have to delete the whole order.

So the supervisor had the cashier delete the whole order & re-scan everything!

Cash-BackThe second time I looked at the electronic pad before I signed & a cash-back of $20 popped up. At that point I told the cashier & she deleted it.

The total came out right. The cashier agreed that the electronic pad must be defective. (yeah, right!)

Obviously the cashier knew the electronic pad wasn’t defective because she NEVER offered me the $40 at the beginning.

Can you imagine how many people went through before me & at the end of her shift how much money she pocketed?

Just to alert everyone. My coworker went to Milford , DE Wal-Mart last week. She had her items rung up by the cashier. The cashier hurried her along and didn’t give her a receipt.

She asked the cashier for a receipt and the cashier was annoyed and gave it to her. My coworker didn’t look at her receipt until later that night. The receipt showed that she asked for $20 cash back. SHE DID NOT ASK FOR CASH BACK!

My coworker called Wal-Mart who investigated but could not see the cashier pocket the money. She then called her niece who works for the bank and her niece told her This is a new scam. The cashier will key in that you asked for cash back and then hand it to her friend who is the next person in line.

Please, please, please check your receipts right away when using credit or debit cards!

This is NOT limited to Wal-Mart, although they are the largest retailer so they have the most incidents.

I am adding to this….My husband and I were in Wal-Mart North Salisbury and paying with a credit card. When my husband went to sign the credit card signer, he just happened to notice there was a $20 cash back added. He told the cashier that he did not ask nor want cash back and she said this machine has been messing up and she canceled it. We didn’t think anything of it until we read this email.

I wonder how many “seniors” have been, or will be, “stung” by this one????

THIS SCAM CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE, AT ANY RETAIL OR WHOLESALE LOCATION!!!

BEFORE LEAVING THE CASHIER’S STATION!!!!! CHECK YOUR RECEIPT BEFORE LEAVING THE STAND. I’VE SEEN PEOPLE DO JUST THAT. NOW I’LL START!

PASS THIS ON TO YOUR FRIENDS, KIDS, LOVED ONES

Credit-Card6 Credit Card Security Tips

Identity theft and credit card fraud are common crimes in the U.S. and abroad. It is important to do everything you can to make sure you are not victimized. The following credit card security tips are a good place to start.

1. Be Careful With Your Card and Information

Your credit card should be treated like your social security card and driver’s license. Know where it is at all times, and never leave it lying around where anyone can find it. You should also be careful to guard the numbers on your card. Do not send the card numbers through the mail–the postal system is not 100% secure. Mistakes could happen, and the number could fall into the wrong hands. You should also be careful about who you give the number to. Never give your credit card number out over the phone unless you initiated the call.

2. Be Careful with Your Pin

Many people like to select a credit card pin (personal identification number) that is easy to remember, but that is convenient for a potential thief. Your pin should never include a number that appears somewhere else in your wallet–birthdates, phone numbers, and your driver’s license number are all off limits. Choose a pin that you can memorize but cannot be guessed by anyone else. Memorize the pin–do not write it down where it can be found. Some banks even recommend changing your pin every six months for additional security.

3. Beware of Phishing Scams

Phishing is a type of social engineering technique designed to get private information such as account numbers, passwords, and credit card numbers. The scammer “fishes” by “baiting” unsuspected web users with emails, instant messages, and other forms of communication. Inside the communication is a link to a fake website that looks legitimate. The website is infected with malware that can cause serious problems for any web user. Scammers typically pose as major retailers, companies, or organizations, such as eBay, PayPal, or the IRS. Use a spam filter on your email to block phishing scams. Anti-virus software can also help. It is also important to be aware as you browse. Only enter your credit card info if you are sure that you are on the right site. Look at the web address closely, and avoid links in suspicious emails. If the email is riddled with spelling errors, it is probably from a scammer, not a legitimate company.

4. Carry Only the Cards You Need

When traveling–whether on vacation or a short day trip–you should only carry the credit cards you plan to use. If your card is not with you everywhere you go, you are less likely to lose it by accident. If you were to lose it, and did not realize it immediately, a lot of damage could be done. If you leave your credit cards behind at home or in a hotel, lock them in a safe. This will help to prevent theft of the card or card information.

5. Shred Documents

Never trash documents containing your credit card information. These documents MUST be shredded. Stealing personal information out of trash is an identity theft method that will never go out of style. It is low-tech enough for even the simplest of thieves. It can even tempt people you know to steal from you when they may have never intended to do so.

6. Watch Your Statement

One of the easiest ways to be vigilant is to keep an eye on your credit card statement. You don’t have to wait for the paper version to come in the mail. Most credit card companies allow you to view your statement online for free. Take advantage of this service; it will be much easier to spot illicit activity immediately. If checking on your statement twice a week sounds like an inconvenience, think about how many times you check your email or Facebook page in one day. If you can find time for that, you can spare a couple of minutes to monitor your credit card statement.

Guest post from Alex Storm. Alex writes for BestCreditCards.net.

How to Check Out A Company’s Online Reputation

The last thing you want is to do is pay someone to install a home security system and then find out that the company is nothing but a group of scam artists who use the system as a means to gain entry to and then case your home for future break-ins. What really sucks is that this hypothetical happens all the time. Don’t let it happen to you!

Alarm systems are far more aesthetically pleasing ways to keep your home safe, don’t you think?

Before you give serious consideration to contracting with any alarm company, do the legwork. Get references, look them up with your local Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau, and (obviously) dig deep into their online reputation. Here are a few ways to do that.

1. Google.

It sounds pretty simple, right? But you want to do more than plug the company’s name into Google and read the first few pages or reviews. You need to really give your Google-fu a chance to shine here. Make sure you look specifically for complaints, problems, and reviews.

To ensure that you’re getting what you want, it helps to use the quotation marks. “COMPANY NAME reviews,” “COMPANY NAME problems,” and “COMPANY NAME scams” are all searches that you should do. Read through at least the first two pages of results to make sure you’re getting as much independent information as possible.

Pro Tip: Use the “v. COMPANY NAME” search to see if any lawsuits have been filed against the company you are thinking of using.

2.Angie’s List.

Unfortunately this service isn’t free, but it is an incredibly valuable one. Angie’s List is a website on which people post honest and unbiased reviews of different service providers. Use it to look up the company you are thinking of hiring as well as the others that are in your area.

The great thing about Angie’s List is that because the service is paid, you don’t have to worry about a company gaming the system by posting a bunch of fake reviews under fake names. Once you’re a member, you can look up any kind of service provider or company you like.

Pro Tip: Look into the profiles of any review writers whose reviews seem extreme—in either direction. Disgruntled customers will sometimes go overboard in their attempts to take a company down.

3.Whois

Don’t forget to check out the company’s website information. Anybody can set up a website that looks corporate and official. Using Whois to find out who runs their website is the key to finding out who runs the company. Check out all of the information that is provided to you by Whois.

Pro Tip: Be very wary of any website that is set to expire soon or that was created recently. These are signs of a potential scam—especially if the website itself says the company has been in business for years.

4.Glass Door

Glass Door is a website on which you can find out about the hiring and firing practices of a company. The site is a portal for current and former employees to talk about what it is (or was) like to work for a company. Learning about the internal workings of a company can tell you a lot about how trustworthy (or scammy) a company is. It also helps you feel better by knowing that your money won’t be used to abuse employees.

Pro Tip: Make sure that the alarm company runs extensive background, criminal, and drug checks on its employees!

These are just four ways that you can use the Internet to look into the reputation of the alarm company you want to hire. Use them all to ensure that you aren’t accidentally inviting vagrants into your home!

Recognize Email Frauds Before You’re Victimized

Email is a way that most of us communicate with one another whether it’s for personal or professional use. It’s not uncommon for most of us to have three, four, even five email accounts each pertaining to a separate aspect of our lives. As email is a chosen method of communication for many, those who try to take advantage of the unsuspecting users are prevalent in many areas. The trick to not becoming a victim to these elements can be as simple as taking a quick look at the email in question.

1. Links – A large number of attacks use links within an email to websites that are hazardous. Coding in HTML for emails can show the text for a link as one thing, but have the click send the user to a completely different website. For those who use Outlook, hovering your mouse over those links will show you the exact link it is referring to. If the text link and this hovered link are different, the email is most likely fake. Never click on random links in your email regardless of who sends them.

2. Unsolicited – There are hundreds of variants of the ATM card worth millions of dollars floating around the Internet. If the email sender neglected to use your name to contact you, there is a good chance they don’t know it. If they are sending you an ATM card worth millions of dollars, don’t you think that they would? If you don’t have previous knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the email, do not respond to it.

3. Zipped Files – Never open an attachment in a zipped format unless you are sure of its source. Compression techniques makes sending files in an email ideal if the files are large. However, it also prevents many anti-virus scan programs from examining the contents. If a virus has been zipped into that file, you won’t know about it until you open the attachment. If you’re not waiting for a file from an outside source, delete the email.

4. Undisclosed Recipients – There are a vast number of emails that attack individuals that seem like they have been addressed to them personally. However, if the “To” line states “Undisclosed Recipients”, it means that the sender has emailed that same message to a large number of people. When they start the email with, “Dear Friend” they are actually saying “Dear Unsuspecting Victim.”

5. Personal Info – No company will every ask you for personal information through an email for an account you have with them. They already have that information and verification of your information happens on their site, never through an email. No legitimate company will ask you for your login or password information through an email. Any emails that require you to send your information for “verification purposes” should be considered fraudulent and promptly deleted or forwarded to the company’s fraud depart if they have one. For instance, PayPal has a fraud department located at spoof@paypal.com.

Even if the email comes from someone you know, it can still be wrought with fraudulent activity. Many hackers will take control of email accounts and spam everyone in a person’s address book in order to maximize the damage. Keep your passwords and details obscure and continually monitor your account’s activity. You could be attacking Grandma without even knowing about it.

Tips for Avoiding Loan Fraud

Most people have found themselves in a desperate financial situation at least once in their lives. If and when this happens to you, your only option may be to borrow money. While it’s usually best to borrow from family or close friends, rather than from financial institutions, sometimes that is simply not an option.

If you must turn to a personal loan company for the funds you need, there are some things to keep in mind and to think about before you rush into any decision. Don’t let your urgent need for money push you into making a big mistake.

Choose a Legitimate Company

Obviously, the most important thing of all is which lender you choose to secure your personal loan from. Thanks to the internet, there are literally thousands of different lending companies available today. However, it’s in your best interest to choose a local lending company, one that you can actually visit and see in person.

Always research any lender—online or virtual—before you agree to any terms or provide any personal information, such as a credit card number or a banking number. You should also look for a lender that is open, honest, and upfront about everything regarding the loan, including the interest rate and when repayment must start. If there is any evasiveness on the part of the lender now, you can rest assured it will only get worse later.

Don’t Pay Anything Upfront

There are some loan companies that will request you pay a small fee upfront, before you’ve actually received any money. Some companies claim this is an administrative fee, while others may say it is an application fee or even a deposit or penalty necessary due to poor credit. More often than not, this is something you’ll see with online lenders, rather than virtual ones. However, you should never offer a lender any money upfront. The only money you should pay should be money that is directed toward the repayment of your loan. While upfront fees are not always indicative of scam artists, they always indicate a business not using standard practices and one that does pose a risk to you.

Read Carefully Before You Sign!

Before you receive your money, you will have to sign a contract that details the loan agreement. Be sure to read over this document very carefully, as it will state how long you have to pay your loan back, the interest rate, penalties and fines for late payments, and everything else you need to know. Make sure that the things you read in the contract match up to the agreement you and your lender came to, and never hesitate to ask questions or raise concerns. Remember, the second you sign that document, you are entering into a legally binding agreement, so you should never do it unless you’re absolutely sure of what you’re agreeing to.

Avoid Direct Withdrawals When Possible

Many lenders will ask if they can withdraw your loan payments directly from your bank account. Some may even require this, particularly if you have bad credit. Whenever possible, however, you’ll want to avoid giving this information to lenders. That way, if the lender does turn out to be a scammer, you have not compromised your privacy and security. Plus, this will also allow you to repay at your own rate and to avoid incidents where money that you needed is taken from your bank account.

Byline

Free-Credit-Reports-300x300Identity Theft: They Will Get You There Too!

Most people are not proactive about knowing exactly what is on their personal credit report. Identifying and fixing inaccuracies is helpful for finding a job, establishing new credit, and stopping any ongoing attempts of personal identity theft. Here are a few tips on how to watch out for your credit score.

Take time to see what information is on each credit report. Married couples can benefit from ordering a copy for each individual.

Parents can check the reports of their children to make sure no one is abusing their social security number.

Contact all three major credit reporting agencies online. Some of these agencies have toll-free numbers and have telephone operators available during business hours. Request a credit report by mail, or see if there is a way to view the information online. If the information is online, print out each page of the report.

Prevent Identity Theft

Many people are not actively doing things to keep criminals from finding out their sensitive information. Dedicate a specific space at home for keeping important documents. Examples of these sensitive documents are passports, social security cards, and birth certificates.

Use a filing cabinet, lock box, or another place around the home that is not in a main living area. Avoid placing household files in a room used for entertaining guests; this gives friends, coworkers, or neighbors that easy access to important documents.

Phone Calls

Resist the temptation to tell sensitive information over the phone. There are many professional criminals that pose as an insurance provider, government agency, or healthcare business and try to get sensitive information by phone.  When an unsolicited caller requests information, do not give any details away on the telephone. Conduct all transactions that need giving out a social security number in person or by mail, after checking the validity of the organization requesting the information.

Sensitive Documents

Change the passwords to online accounts often. Always shred voided checks, statements that list a social security number, and old bank account statements before recycling them or throwing them away. Avoid doing business with companies that are not proactive about keeping personal information safe. Pay close attention to how they ask for information and store files. Using these tips will help to actively prevent identity theft.

Byline:  George Fauntleroy recommends using www.kelcreditrepair.com if you ever find yourself in a credit crisis.

PennyIdentifying Loan Modification Fraud

Guest Post -April Santos

Many people have recently had difficulty paying off their mortgages. Many have been threatened with foreclosure, and some have been able to get a loan modification. Whenever people get desperate for solutions, however, the criminal element also rises to offer fake loan modifications for those who are not careful.

Avoiding loan modification scams begins simply with being aware of what sounds good and what does not.

Missing Specifics

Oftentimes, general promises are made in these ads, but specific details such as how long may be missing. For example, although you may be promised an interest rate of one percent, or a “low-fixed rate,” there may not be any statement as to how long you might get this rate for. It could be just an introductory rate that may last only for one month, or a little longer. Learn the details before grabbing something that might hurt you in the long run.

Semantics

Sometimes an ad might promise that you will be able to get very low rates. Sounds good so far, but start asking questions like, is this talking about an interest rate or a low payment rate? It might be talking about a low payment rate, but could charge you even more interest than what you were paying before. Or, your low payment rate may not even cover the amount of interest accumulated each month, which means that you end up owing more and more – negative amortization.

Fees

Paying up-front fees is another indication that you are dealing with a scam.

The Federal Trade Commission says that it is illegal to charge upfront fees, according to the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule. I

f they mention any upfront fees, you can be sure you are dealing with a scam company. Any fees that are added must be added after the process is complete.

Beware of Guarantees

If a company or individual promises that they can guarantee to get you a loan modification – beware – you are dealing with a scam artist. Your mortgage lender is not under any obligation to modify your loan. A company who promises this knows this, too – but they are hoping you don’t, and will take your money and disappear.

Pay Me!

Someone else may tell you to stop your mortgage payments, and pay them instead. While they make it sound good, the truth is that they are getting you ready to give them an even larger payment. Most likely, this will probably speed up the foreclosure process – and you will be a big-time loser. They face little risk, but you could lose your home.

Bait and Switch

Another type of scam is a bait and switch. The scammers try to get you to sign some papers that will enable you to get another loan – just to keep your current mortgage up-to-date. Somewhere in those documents, however, is one that says you are giving them your property in exchange for a loan to rescue you out of debt.

Protect Yourself

In order to avoid possible scams, you want to do two things. First, you should talk directly to your lender, who will show you what is needed to get a loan modification; secondly, you should talk to a lawyer about it – but be sure to investigate them first (some lawyers are also scammers).

Byline: April Santos recommends visiting www.anyhousewanted.co.uk if you ever need to sell your house quickly.

How To Recognize Financial Scams

Investing your money wisely can help it grow; however, if you fall victim to a scam, you’ll lose everything you put into the investment. In order to protect yourself from this, you need to learn the signs of a probable scam

No Surety Bond

If a financial advisor or investment company doesn’t have a surety bond, you need to be more careful in dealing with them. Surety bonds are a type of insurance guaranteeing that the company will do what it says it will do. If a company doesn’t possess this type of insurance, it may not be as legitimate as a company that does. Companies have to meet certain criteria to get this type of bond; which usually involves going through a verification process.

Emphasis on Recruitment Rather Than Sales

One common type of investment fraud is called a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes promise you a high return on your investment, but your return is based on how many other people you can get to invest in the product or service rather than on how well the product itself does in the market.

This type of investment allows the originators to get very rich, but investors generally don’t make very much. Success with this type of scheme is logically impossible due to the fact that there must always be newcomers joining to bring in revenue. In order to make the kinds of profits scammers promise, you’d have to recruit more investors into the project than are currently alive today. Usually another giveaway is if the person pitching you the idea focuses on “success” and “independence” rather than the actual business model.

Promise of Easy Money Right Away

Real investments take time to mature, while fake ones promise you the ability to make large sums of money almost immediately. If a business promises you lots of money quickly, especially if representatives pressure you to make an investment immediately rather than thinking it over, you are probably dealing with a scam.

You Have To Give Personal Information Upfront

If a business asks for your personal or account information immediately, you need to be cautious. Scammers are usually in a hurry to get your money or your personal information so that they can commit identity theft. Legitimate investment opportunities allow you to invest without immediately requiring you to share your bank account details. This is especially true if the investor asks you to share these details via email.

You Can’t Find Information About The Company

Most legitimate businesses offer contact information upfront; they want investors and customers to contact them. Scammers tend to hide their contact info even if they have an official looking website. In addition, scammers often try to hide their presence online. If you can’t find any information about an investment opportunity via a quick Google search, you should be suspicious of that opportunity. Similarly, if you can’t find any information about a financial broker by searching broker databases, that broker is probably not legitimate.

Keeping Your Money Safe Online

Secure Connections

The first step when dealing with finances online is to ensure you’re operating on a secure connection. In general, the best way to do this is to go online through a password-protected network not available to the public.

If you conduct any banking or financial transactions on a public unsecured network, you need to check whether the site is secure with encryption on each page. Look for a web address that starts with “https://” to know whether a connection is secure. And of course, you should also have virus protection software in use and updated to ensure you don’t have a malware or spyware program installed on your computer that sends your keystrokes to a third party.

Online Banking

Banking online is incredibly convenient, but it’s imperative to protect your accounts. First, choose a secure choose a secure password. This is one that includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and ideally a special symbol if the site allows it. Don’t store your password on your computer, and if you need a reminder, keep it in a locked filing cabinet or safe at home. Second, always navigate to your bank’s website by typing the address in your browser. If you follow links, you may be directed to an impostor site instead. Third, log out every time you’re done banking, rather than just closing the window.

Direct Deposit

Receiving your paycheck through direct deposit is convenient, and there’s the added perk of getting your money sooner. However, it’s important that your payroll provider use security procedures with your data. You have to give your routing and bank account numbers, and you don’t want these in just anyone’s hands. Ask your employer what company it uses for direct deposit and how that company encrypts, stores and protects your personal information.

(Picture Credit Online Guild)

Shopping on Websites

Most websites selling products have an online checkout process you can use to buy the products you want, but not all of these are secure. If a website looks questionable, use common sense and don’t give out your credit card information or bank account number. Never send this information via email, and always look for the security seal on the checkout page, in addition to the https:// prefix so you know your information is being encrypted.

Caution is the name of the game when it comes to online financial transactions. As a final tip, never provide your financial information in response to an email or call from a bank or company. Instead, call the company yourself so you can be sure you’re responding to a legitimate request. Sophisticated hackers and thieves set up many types of scams to get your financial information and steal your money, and it’s your job to be vigilant so you can avoid these traps.

 

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