The FTC has designated this week National Consumer Protection Week, so all scams will be put on hold and businesses won’t overcharge you until next Sunday. What, no? That’s now how it works? Ah… it looks like it’s more about consumer education, which is also a good thing since that will help consumers protect themselves year round. For adults, here’s a whole page of various scam prevention tips, fact sheets, and videos. If you’re an educator, you can enroll in the National Financial Capability Challenge and get an “educator toolkit” to help you teach students how to be smart consumers. There’s a section for businesses too, with information on how to protect customers’ personal info and deter ID theft. [More]
The Federal Trade Commission has a website at www.ftc.gov/jobscams with information on the types of scams you’re likely to find in Help Wanted listings. They’ve also put together a short video (below) that describes how scammers try to charge job hunters fees to pay for job certification, or to provide access to executive-level interviews, or to acquire study materials that are supposedly crucial to passing a hiring exam. It’s a good refresher course in what to look out for when you’re answering ads. [More]
In the wide world of scams, this combination of a phone call and computer malware is sort of a novel twist. Jay likes to string phone scammers along to waste their time, so he managed to get quite a few details about how this particular scam works. If you’ve got naive family members with access to computers, either take away their computers or tell them never to download software from a stranger on the phone. [More]
The Centers for Disease Control have issued a warning that there’s a new, swine flu-themed phishing email going around. It says something about an imaginary State Vaccination H1N1 Program, and asks you to create an account on the cdc.gov website–and if you click the link, malicious code may be installed on your system. Obviously you have brain worms if you fall for this. [More]
Update: Barnes & Noble says they’re changing this policy. If you or someone you know is getting a nook, Barnes & Noble’s version of the Kindle, this year and you want to use a gift card to fill it with books, forget it. For mysterious reasons, the retailer won’t allow it. (By contrast, Amazon does.)
David closed his Chase credit card account instead of accepting a rate increase earlier this year. That should have been the end of it, but it turned out Chase later went ahead and increased the interest rate anyway.
Today the FTC lodged a contempt charge against scammy no-credit-needed electronics seller BlueHippo, saying that the company hasn’t honored its prior agreement to stop scamming customers. BlueHippo agreed to pay back $3.5 million nearly two years ago to reimburse customers who never received the computers they pre-paid for, but the FTC says since then the company has sucked another $15 million out of customers.
Earlier this week we posted a warning to watch out for calls from people asking for donations on behalf of local police or fire departments. Today an alleged former employee—who says he quit after two days of training and one day of seeing what it was really like on the call center floor—wrote in to tell us a little more about how a company on the other side of that phone call works.
The website Consumer Affairs (which is not related to us or our owners in any way) is warning people in Oregon to watch out for calls from people asking for donations on behalf of local police or fire departments. It’s a good reminder to everyone that telephone solicitations should be ignored: “At best, the solicitor will probably take the lion’s share of your donation. At worst, the caller is an outright fraud,” the site reports.
Hey, we helped get an Ameriprise customer banned from the financial company’s consumer advisory panel! Sorry about that, Brendan.
Last week, a customer in Long Beach, New York, discovered a skimmer attached to the outside of a local ATM branch instead of on specific machines. We’ve talked a lot about being wary of any suspicious add-ons at the ATM, but in this case the criminals were collecting card info as people swiped to enter the building—although they still had pinhole cameras set up to record PINs next to each keypad.
A city in Florida has just warned its residents of a weird scam: someone’s been hanging pink notices on doors around town that say, “Due to the water quality in this area, we will be installing whole-house water treatment systems.” You’re supposed to fill out the back of the notice and leave it out for further contact. Remember, don’t let anyone remodel your home on behalf of the city. It probably goes without saying, but still.
[Note: The original headline for this post mistakenly identified Ameritrade as the subject of the post. It is actually Ameriprise Financial. I deeply regret the error.] Since March of this year, security expert Russ McRee of HolisticInfoSec.org has sent 6 messages to Ameriprise Financial warning them of easily exploitable security holes on their website. They ignored every request, while at the same time reassuring customers that “No one without the proper web browser configuration can view or modify information contained on our systems.”
A reader just ran into a gift card scam while trying to unload an Apple gift card via CraigsList. If you’re directed to a website that asks you to put in your gift card information in order to show the balance as “proof” that you’re legit, you’re being conned.
The Better Business Bureau has released a warning to be aware of scammers calling to threaten people with arrest “within the hour” for defaulting on payday loans. What makes them stand out from normal debt collecting scammers is these callers have huge amounts of personal info on their victims, including Social Security and drivers license numbers; old bank account numbers; names of employers, relatives, and friends; and home addresses.