Want to know the latest scams? How to recognize them? What to do? What not to do?
Here’s a new installment of my popular “Dawg’s Bulletin Board,” where followers of The Watchdog help me alert you to the most recent scams they’ve encountered. It’s a warning to all. And look for the patterns.
Joan Lawther received two emails from Netflix warning that her membership would be suspended because her credit card couldn’t be processed. The email asked for her credit card info and her Social Security number.
But she noticed the “help” phone line given didn’t start with a 1 — the American country code — meaning the call came from another country. She smartly called Netflix directly and was told her account is in order.
Lesson: When receiving an email from someone you do business with, don’t use the phone numbers or contact buttons given in the email to respond. Search for the company’s number on your bill or through the web — and call independently of the email.
Jyoti Mann learned how easy it is for crooks to take over someone’s phone by using the last four digits of a Social Security number, which is often used as a default PIN. Change it.
Lesson: Social Security numbers are not difficult to find on the internet. Change your PIN.
Bogus check scam
A man contacted Cynthia Collins by text, offering her a job as a “store surveyor.” He mailed her a check for $1,900 to deposit in her bank. “The job involved buying eBay gift cards and texting him the code on the back,” she explained.
Lesson: Cynthia didn’t fall for what’s called the “mystery shopper scam.” The check would turn out to be fake, and she would be out her own money. Meanwhile, the scammer gains all those codes to use for eBay purchases.
Fake tax document
Someone sent Jennifer Coleman a document that looks like a tax form. It’s called “2019 Benefit Information for Texas Citizens Only.” Because the year 2019 is printed in the upper-right corner like an actual tax form, it looks real.
The form seeks your name, age, address and phone number. Presumably this would lead to a follow-up call.
“As a resident of Texas, you are entitled to more benefits,” it promises.
Lesson: Scammers often use documents that appear to come from the government. It’s supposed to scare you, entice you and most of all, force you to pay attention.
ake postal email
Hal Cherry received an email pretending to come from “USPS — Customer Support” that has very professional-looking graphics showing postal products. But the grammar is atrocious.
Example: “DearHalcherry we remind you that confirmation needed before 25/09/2019.”
The point is to get you to click on the button that seeks to “Confirm now.” God only knows what happens when you do that.
Lesson: Bad grammar and poor spelling are easy clues that a note in question is fake. For instance, in the U.S. we place the month in a date at the beginning, not in the middle, of this: 25/09/2019.
Frozen bank accounts
Steve Dill warns that some banks will freeze or even deactivate a bank account if there is no activity. This can be an especially serious problem for elderly people who may leave money in an account and not touch it for ages.
Lesson: If you have a bank account that’s left alone for a lengthy period, check with your bank to make sure that doesn’t cause a problem.
Fake bank fraud calls
Donna Shaffner received a call, supposedly from her bank’s customer service department, warning her there was fraud on her account. The caller needed her debit card PIN to check.
She says she received six of these calls in two days.
She called the bank, and a staffer warned her that the calls were fraudulent. She was told to block the number and check her account frequently.
Lesson: Never, never give your card numbers, PINs or account information to strange callers over the phone.
Check your interest rates
Mike Armstrong looked at the interest rate given on his bank savings account. It was supposed to be 1.4%, but it was 0.05%.
He went to the bank and asked why. “I was simply told they are free to change the rates to whatever, whenever.”
He closed the account.
Lesson: Interest rates on credit cards, savings accounts, car loans are all over the map. It might be time to make a list of all interest rates you’re paying and work to pay the highest ones off first.
And certainly look for any changes in rates, such as the one Mike found.
I hope these field reports from members of my Watchdog Nation help keep you and your loved ones out of trouble. Please share.