Archives for posts with tag: Better Business Bureau alert

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to be aware of scammers trying to make things even worse for victims of the Equifax data breach (; “Scam Alert: Con Artists Bank on Equifax Breach”).

How does the scam work? BBB warns consumers that scammers are sending out robo calls with a message that the call’s from Equifax which needs to verify the consumer’s account information. Asked to stay on the line, the call’s then connected to a “representative” who will try to get the consumer to reveal her personal financial information.

Don’t do it! Hang up the call ASAP! Yes, consumers getting these scam calls could be among the 143 million people whose information was hacked. But, per BBB, Equifax won’t (we hope) be calling consumers to confirm account information.

In addition to hanging up, BBB alerts consumers not to trust “caller ID”. Scammers know how to “spoof” phone numbers so their calls appear to be from a legitimate company or government organization.

Be alert for these phishing phone calls. Unfortunately, more scams are likely to keep emerging as scammers create more ways to use the massive Equifax breach for their criminal ends.






The Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued an alert on February 21st about a reoccurring scam.  As BBB notes in its alert, this type of customer survey scam comes back often, with slight variations each time.  And each time, the scammers count on consumers being too busy to stop and realize the only “reward” is the personal and financial information the scammers will get.

This scam comes via an email announcing either “Your Reward Points are Expiring. Claim Now!” or”Your eBalance Points are Expiring Soon!” (; “It’s Back! Survey Scam Strikes Again”).  As BBB explains, consumers will be tricked into believing this is a legitimate email as the scammers use the name of a well-known store; the BBB alert notes that stores as well-known as Macy’s, Walgreens and others have been used in these types of scams.

The consumer getting this email may, in fact, shop at the store named by the scammers.  There’s a link in the email asking the consumer to take the attached survey and tell the store about his recent shopping experience there.  The reward for doing so? A promise of $100.00 or more in “bonus-points” for just completing the survey.

Don’t open the link because doing so can result in many outcomes but none are good.  While the survey might be real, the consumer gets ads for products once the survey is done.  Or else, the survey is really a phishing scam that asks the consumer for banking and credit card information.  Or once opened, the survey link downloads malware to the consumer’s computer.

The BBB alert contains 4 tips for spotting a survey scam:

  1. Email has consumer’s personal information: while the scam email looks as if it’s personalized, the consumer has never signed up for emails from this particular company;
  2. Act ASAP: the scam email tells the consumer to act immediately or else something terrible will happen;
  3. Bad grammar, typos: the BBB alert contains a warning I’ve previously noted –that being, that scammers are getting better all the time at copying a company’s logo, name and email format.  But incorrect wording, bad grammar, typos and awkward phrasing are among the tip-offs that the email is a scam; and
  4. Hover over the URLs: As BBB notes, while the hyperlinked text will say one thing, the link itself will point the consumer somewhere else.  A consumer who hovers over the links can see if they lead to the business or company’s official website or some variation of the domain name.

The best tip?  When in doubt, don’t open the link!


It was only a matter of time before scammers pounced on the tragedy of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane to exploit for illegal purposes. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) just issued a scam alert yesterday about the numerous scams already out there (; “Fake Malaysian Airline News Used as Scam Click Bait”, April 1st).  The terrible bait is that the scams allegedly show exclusive footage of the missing plane and/or of passengers being found.

This scam, like other scams, could arrive via different methods and in multiple versions.  BBB has learned about the scam being sent on Facebook and reports it could also come on Twitter, through other social media as well as emails.

What will the scam look like?  BBB reports two of the most popular versions, so far, are the following:

  • A Facebook post, for example, reading”Video of Malaysia MH 370 Plane Found in Bermuda Triangle. Passengers Alive.” or,
  • A social media post or email reading “[NEWS FLASH] Missing Plane Has Been Found.”

What happens next? As the BBB “alert” warns, there is a link in the message directing people to click on it.  The link is allegedly a news site but anyone clicking on the link will go to an unfamiliar 3rd party website.  That link could do one of several of the following:

  • A pop up could appear directing people to “update your video player.”  Don’t hit “OK” — what’s getting “played” is anyone who does so.  It’s malware, not a new software version, that will be downloaded.
  • A message could appear directing people to take a survey before viewing the video.  Again, don’t do it!  Clicking on the survey link could mean people are sharing personal information that could make them vulnerable to identity theft.  An even stronger possibility is that doing so will send personal information to the scammers who will sell it to spammers or others.

How can you know if a message is a scam or legitimate?  The BBB alert suggests people hover their mouse over the link to see where it might lead.  Again, only hover, don’t click it.  The BBB alert also has links to the respective Facebook and Twitter instructions for reporting scams to them.

People are hoping for some concrete news about this missing plane.  Scammers are counting on it so we have to guard against our natural instincts to learn more and be careful before opening any seemingly legitimate news flashes.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has just issued an alert about the latest scam being used by thieves to steal money and/or personal information (see, scam, “Scammers Impersonate Police with Spoofed Caller ID”).  Consumers need to be very alert to this ploy. BBB says the scams being used all around the country.

The scammers have gotten hold of a computer program that lets them change phone numbers that can be displayed on Caller ID — the spoofing part of this scam.  The scammers are using this technology to send calls with the right phone numbers of the local sheriff or police offices appearing when the recipients hit Caller ID.

The intended victims see the legitimate phone number, answer the call and are then told by the scammers (posing as the local sheriff or police) that there’s an arrest warrant out for them.  BBB reports that some of the scammers have been using the real names of local sheriffs or police officers in the calls — thus making the threat seem more legitimate.

The scammer tells the intended victim that he can avoid the criminal charge by paying a fine.  Here’s the next part of the scam: the scammer says the fine can only be paid by a money order or pre-paid debit card.

Now many people will see through this scam but others will be scared into doing so — maybe because the scammer uses a real name of a local police officer; or because they might not know what fines could exist for them; or because the scammer already has some personal information about the intended victim.  BBB cited the case of a Detroit-area woman who became a victim because the scammer specifically mentioned a loan she’d taken out (that alone raises more problems about how the scammers got that information).

Consumers should remember these “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Don’t wire money: legitimate police forces don’t operate by calling people and asking for money over the phone;
  • Do hang up ASAP: don’t call back as doing so might give the scammers more personal information they can later use for other criminal ends;
  • Do call the real local police or sheriff’s office: let them know about the call so they can alert others in the area; and
  • Don’t give out personal information: scams come in different formats and approaches but they all want the same thing — consumers’ money and/or personal information.

It almost seems like a riddle.  When is a “Do Not Call” call a call that you shouldn’t take?  When it’s a scammer trying to scam a consumer out of her or his personal information.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued an alert about this latest scam, which can come in several variations (; “Phony Officials Trick Consumers into “Verifying” Information on Do Not Call Registry”).

Here’s how the scam works:

  • You get a phone call from someone claiming to be a representative of the National Do Not Call Registry (Registry), or from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or from the Canadian National Do Not Call List;
  • The caller might ask you to sign up for the Registry; or confirm personal information if you say you’re already signed up; or might offer you a chance to register your phone number;
  • The caller says all you need to do is provide your name, address and SSN.

And how should you respond? Hang up  if it’s a live call and do not call back any number left on a message!

Here are additional very helpful tips from the BBB alert:

  • FTC and staff members from the National Registry do not call consumers;
  • There’s no “expiration date” for the Registry; once a consumer’s listed a phone number (or numbers) then they’re set;
  • Adding another phone number can be done either by going to the Registry’s website ( or by calling the toll-free number from the phone number you want to register (1-888-382-1222); and
  • Consumers can verify if the phone number they’ve registered at that feature on the Registry’s website.

I’ve gone to an FTC website ( and looked at the list of  38 “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs).  The FAQs cover a range of issues that consumers might have about the “Do Not Call” Registry.

The real “Do Not Call” Registry is a help to consumers.  The only “help” the scammers want is to help themselves to your personal information for any number of criminal uses (e.g., identity theft).

So do hang up and don’t help them.

Scammers are shameless and prey on anyone and everyone.  So this alert is for seniors so you can protect your private personal and financial information.  If you’re not a senior, please share this alert with any seniors you know so they can protect themselves.

What’s the latest scam aimed at seniors?  It’s nationwide and involves Medicare ID cards.  Seniors get phone calls from scammers pretending they’re Medicare representatives or are from other government agencies.  The scam caller says something along these lines:  “New Medicare ID cards are being mailed out, your new card’s in the mail and should arrive in a few days.  We need to set up your direct deposit so the Medicare funds can go directly into your bank account.”

Sounds so convenient, right?  Wrong!  Hang up the minute the scammer tries to pass himself off as from Medicare or another government agency.  But if you don’t hang up then, don’t, repeat don’t, give up your bank account information.  The only direction money will flow is from your bank account into the scammer’s hands.

There are other variations on this scam.  Instead of bank account information, the scammer might say he needs to confirm the senior’s identity in order to send out the new Medicare card.  All that’s needed is the senior’s Medicare number (which is the same as the SSN) and other personal information.  Again, don’t do it!  Unsuspecting victims could become identity theft victims.

Seniors, as well as friends and family members of seniors, can learn more about protecting against Medicare scams. is the official U.S. Government site for Medicare information.  I went to it and easily found useful information at the “Medicare fraud and ID theft” link. Pull up that link (on the left hand side of the page), as there’s additional information under the “Identity theft:protect yourself” link.

The Better Business Bureau’s recent alert is another excellent resource (, “Don’t Fall for Medicare Card Phone Scam”, January 5, 2013).

Finally, while I hope you never need it, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an ID Theft Hotline (1-877-438-4338).  Don’t hesitate to call the Hotline if you, or someone you know, has been a victim of a Medicare scam.

Most of us enjoy getting money back on a good deal — who doesn’t? Criminals know this  and they’re using a vicious malware virus to steal our financial information.  And the criminals are savvy enough to be using social media to do just that.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) just reported on this latest scam (“New Scam Steals Financial Information From Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail users”).  How does the scam work?  BBB wrote that an offer pops up, for example, on your Facebook with a 20% cash back offer if you link your Visa or MasterCard debit card to your Facebook account.  Don’t do it!  The link is to a version of the Zeus Trojan malware that’s been used for years by scammers to steal people’s financial information.

While the BBB article talks mostly about Facebook, it offers 5 tips that are helpful for any of the social media we use.  Here are the BBB’s tips:

  1. With Facebook, don’t install a game or any other application if you’re not completely sure it’s legitimate
  2. On Twitter and Facebook, be wary of posts heavy with promotional language that seem to be from friends.   One example would be a post that says “Click here and you can get the same $100.00 gift from Amazon that I just did.”
  3. Don’t click on posts or applications claiming to be able to tell you which friends just viewed your profile.  BBB warns that you can’t tell who’s actually viewed your profile and the post or app could be from a scammer wanting to get your personal information.
  4. On Twitter and Facebook, beware of promotional offers with shortened links.  The BBB gave this example of such a link:  BBB notes that legitimate businesses often use such links.  But shortened links hide the true URL of the destination website —and thieves use shortened links to direct unwitting victims to a site that will then infect their computers with malware.
  5. You can uninstall a suspicious application if you’ve got any concerns.  On Facebook, click on the “Home” icon; go to “Account Settings”; click on the “Apps” icon and uninstall the suspicious app.  Change your account password in case that’s been compromised.

The FTC ( and the BBB ( offer more information about ways to protect our privacy and personal information. You can also call the BBB at 520-888-5353 to ask for information if you think you’ve been a victim of an online scam.  You can report the scam to the FBI at:

The bottom line: be wary of, and do “due diligence” about, offers that want to get your personal financial information in return for some kind of deal.