As I begin this latest offering of the “Dawg’s Bulletin Board” — in which The Watchdog shares the latest scam alerts from readers like you — my phone suddenly rings.
“Hi, we’re from Texas Home Services, and we’re going to be in your neighborhood tomorrow. We can come by and do a roof inspection. What time would be best for you?”
When he hears my answer, he says: “Oh, I’ll take you off the list.”
So what magic words did I utter? How’d I dump this jerk so he dumps me?
“Sorry, man,” I said. “I moved to Alaska.”
With today’s “Dawg’s Bulletin Board,” here are the latest alerts from you.
Fake Oncor scammers — from Thomas A. Clark
Clark received a call claiming that because he hadn’t missed an electricity payment in six months, he was eligible for a 15 percent discount. Rather than accept the good news, he smartly called Oncor and learned there’s no such discount.
If he had agreed, the scammers would have collected his financial information.
Credit cards are ‘talking’ to one another — from Ramona Logan
Logan discovered something The Watchdog noticed, too. Until recently when you got a new credit card, you had to notify the vendors you pay with auto-debits of the new card’s information. Now, in some cases, the financial institutions notify each other about your new card. You don’t have to do anything.
If you’ve been paying for a service with a card, Logan warns, don’t automatically think the billings will stop when you get a new card. They can carry over without your say-so.
Car registration wrong turn — from Alton Trull
Trull went to renew his vehicle registration online, but he didn’t click on the official state of Texas website. Instead, he unknowingly opened one of the pretender websites that looks like the official site and usually ranks higher in Google search results. This is a common error.
“I went through the process only to realize after completing it that I had given my credit card to the wrong site,” he says. He got his money back from the company, which tacked on a $20 charge. Make sure you are on the official state website for services and not imitators who buy top placement in Google search. Imitators usually list in small print that they are not related to the state, but it’s easy to miss.
If you love math, check the taxes on your phone bill — from John Larson
Larson scrutinized his AT&T bill and saw that taxes and fees increased 228 percent in one month. When he called, the AT&T rep referred him to his various government entities for more information.
“He said they are simply charging me what they are required to charge,” he said. “My concern is that AT&T is not calculating these taxes properly. I don’t see tax rates increasing that much, certainly not 100 percent or more.”
The Watchdog sent Larson’s question to AT&T in my regular monthly report of customer complaints. After several tries, I heard back from spokesman Dale Ingram: “There was an error in calculating the customer’s tax. We reached out to the customer and a credit has been issued to his account.”
Larson received the credit, but says his newest bill isn’t completely fixed.
Lesson learned: Don’t assume the taxes on your bill are correct. Double-check them, especially when they jump.
Fake hack attack — from Jimmy Johnson
Johnson found in his spam folder an email warning that his computer had been hacked. His tormentors wanted $750 — or else.
“I have Malwarebytes and AVG security that run scheduled scans daily. Was this a phishing expedition to get fear money or should I be worried?”
Answer: No fear here. The fact that it went to your spam folder is a good indicator that it went to hundreds, if not thousands of people. You can ignore that silly little thing. And good for you with your Malwarebytes and AVG daily scans. That’s impressive.
Mom always said ‘better safe than sorry’ — from Myrna Deady
Deady received a voicemail message saying that $1,099 was about to be deducted from her bank account. She immediately froze the account.
She smartly performed a Google search on the phone number that showed up on Caller ID. The 800notes.com website showed the scam involved a threat to deduct the money for a “subscription.” The calls are an attempt collect personal information.
One digit off — from John Drake
Drake says his 91-year-old mother was attempting to call Chase Bank when she misdialed by one digit and ended up talking to a company that sells alert systems for $40 a month. Drake believes the company’s number is similar to Chase’s by design.
His mother thought she was talking to a Chase employee. She handed over her checking account information.
Drake called Chase and they canceled the transaction.
Celebrity knockoffs on Twitter — from Rachel Bisaillon
She warns that people pretend to be celebrities on Twitter. She said she was in contact with a faker pretending to be Robert Downey Jr.
“I highly doubt Robert Downey Jr. would be OK with this,” she says.
Even worse, what would Iron Man do?
Celebrity knockoffs on Words with Friends game — from Lisa Katz
Katz reports that she, too, was playing the game with a “famous actor” whom she doesn’t identify.
Then he asked for her credit card so he could make an anonymous donation to a charity. He promised to pay her back.
“Is there a way to find out who he is?” she asks.
Police could, but he hasn’t committed a crime since you didn’t fall for it. Play with real friends of yours.
Ignore ridiculous texts — from Scott Wheeler
Wheeler received a text that tried to direct him to click on an email address “to claim your donated funds.”
“Does this appear to be a new type of scam?” he asks.
My answer: If you have to ask if it’s a scam, it’s a scam.
Bogus Medicare call — from Barbara Broughton
Broughton received a call from someone pretending to be from Medicare who asked if she had received her Medicare card. She had. But he warned her she hadn’t activated it. If she didn’t, she couldn’t use the card, he said.
Medicare cards do not need to be activated.
“I told him I would call Medicare and deal directly with them, and I hung up the phone,” she says. “He, of course, was after my new Medicare card number.” He didn’t succeed.
The Watchdog is pleased with this good scam-prevention work.