Archive for the ‘Concerns of Older Consumers’ Category

Avoiding tech support scams — Federal Trade Commission advice

Callers impersonate legitimate technical support companies to fool computer users into handing over their personal information or sending money.

 

PRESS RELEASE

You’re working on your computer when, suddenly, a message pops up on the screen: “Virus detected! Call now for a free security scan and to repair your device.” That’s a tech support scam. Don’t call, text, or email. Legit tech support companies don’t operate that way.

Scammers pose as big-name companies and use pop-up messages, fake websites, and phone calls to trick you into thinking your computer has an urgent problem. Their plan is to get your money by selling you worthless software, enrolling you in fake programs, or getting you to pay for useless tech support. The scammers urge you to call a toll-free number immediately, threatening that you may lose personal data if you don’t.

When you call, the scammer might ask you to give them remote access, pretend to run a diagnostic test, or tell you they’ve found a virus or other security issue. They try to sell you a security subscription or other “services” that range from worthless (for instance, they’re available for free elsewhere) to malicious (they install dangerous software that can help them steal your personal information.)

What should you do? If you get a pop-up to call a number to fix a virus on your computer, ignore it. Your computer is almost certainly fine. But if you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly — and don’t use the phone number in the pop-up or on caller ID. Use a number you know is real, like the one on a software package or your receipt. Tech support scammers like to place online ads pretending to be legitimate companies, so be sure you have the correct telephone number for the real tech company before calling.

And if someone asks you to pay for anything — including tech support services — with a gift card, cash reload card, or a wire transfer, that’s a scam. No legitimate company will tell you to pay that way. If you see that, report it at FTC.gov/complaint.

July is Military Consumer Month. Share this video with the military community to help them avoid tech support scams.

 

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Timeshare resale scheme preyed on older adults — Federal Trade Commission SCAM ALERT

If you’re thinking about selling your timeshare through a resale company, research the company first. Read about this recent FTC case against Pro Timeshare Resales, and you’ll know why.

Timeshare Resales is a Florida-based company that called people – many of whom were older adults – and promised to sell their timeshare properties. The company often said it had a buyer in mind and that the sale would occur quickly. Once the timeshare owner agreed, the company would charge an up-front fee, usually of $500 to $2,500.

But, according to the FTC, the company did not sell the property quickly – or even at all. Often, it would ask for additional fees and refuse to grant refunds.

As result of its FTC settlement, Pro Timeshare Resales is now banned from timeshare resale services and telemarketing. It’s not allowed to make misrepresentations or collect any more payments for their timeshare services. Plus, it agreed to surrender more than $3 million.

How can you avoid timeshare resale scams? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Check out the reseller. Contact the State Attorney General and local consumer protection agencies in the state where the reseller is located. Ask if they have any complaints on file. You can also search online for complaints.
  • Ask about fees. It’s better to do business with a reseller that takes fees after the timeshare is sold. If you must pay a fee in advance, get refund policies in writing.
  • Get everything in writing. Read the contract carefully to make sure it matches promises you’ve been given verbally. It should include the services the reseller will perform, plus any fees you must pay and when. If the deal isn’t what you expected or wanted, don’t sign the contract.

For more information, check out Timeshares and Vacation Plans. And, if you’ve been a victim of a scam, report it to the FTC.

 

FTC warns of scams related to new medicare cards coming between April 2018 and April 2019

New Medicare cards are coming soon. Here’s what you need to know about your new card. Plus, how to avoid related scams.

Starting in April 2018, Medicare will begin mailing new cards to everyone who gets Medicare benefits. Why? To help protect your identity, Medicare is removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. Instead, the new cards will have a unique Medicare Number. This will happen automatically. You don’t need to do anything or pay anyone to get your new card.

Medicare will mail your card, at no cost, to the address you have on file with the Social Security Administration. If you need to update your official mailing address, visit your online Social Security account or call 1-800-772-1213. When you get your new card, your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.

If your sister who lives in another state gets her card before you, don’t fret. The cards will be mailed in waves, to various parts of the country, from April 2018 until April 2019. So, your card may arrive at a different time than hers. You can check the rollout schedule to get a better idea when you may be receiving yours.

When you get your new card, be sure to destroy your old card. Don’t just toss it in the trash. Shred it. If you have a separate Medicare Advantage card, keep that because you’ll still need it for treatment.

As the new Medicare cards start being mailed, be on the lookout for Medicare scams. Here are some tips:

  • Don’t pay for your new card. It’s yours for free. If anyone calls and says you need to pay for it, that’s a scam.
  • Don’t give personal information to get your card. If someone calls claiming to be from Medicare, asking for your Social Security number or bank information, that’s a scam. Hang up. Medicare will never ask you to give personal information to get your new number and card.
  • Guard your card. When you get your new card, safeguard it like you would any other health insurance or credit card. While removing the Social Security number cuts down on many types of identity theft, you’ll still want to protect your new card because identity thieves could use it to get medical services.

For more information about changes to your Medicare card go to go.medicare.gov/newcard. And if you’re a victim of a scam, report it to the FTC.

Scammers impersonate the Social Security Administration — Federal Trade Commission

Your Social Security number is an important key for an identity thief. Scammers want it, and they think of all sorts of ways to trick you into giving it away.

Here at the Federal Trade Commission, we’re getting reports about calls from scammers claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. They say there’s been a computer problem, and they need to confirm your Social Security number. Other people have told us that they have come across spoof websites that look like the place where you would apply for a new Social Security card – but these websites are actually a setup to steal your personal information.

If you get a phone call or are directed to a website other than ssa.gov that is claiming to be associated with the Social Security Administration, don’t respond. It’s most likely a scam.

Here’s some tips to deal with these government imposters:

  • Don’t give the caller your information. Never give out or confirm sensitive information – like your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number – unless you know who you’re dealing with. If someone has contacted you, you can’t be sure who they are.

  • Don’t trust a name or number. Con artists use official-sounding names to make you trust them. To make their call seem legitimate, scammers use internet technology to spoof their area code – so although it may seem they are calling from Washington, DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.

  • Check with the Social Security Administration. The SSA has a warning about these scams and suggests you contact them directly at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the reason for the contact and the person’s identity prior to providing any information to the caller.

If you come across one of these scams, please report it to the Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271/1-866-501-2101(TTY) and then tell the FTC about it.

How scammers make you pay — Federal Trade Commission

Here’s one of the top questions we get from people: Is this a scam? Whatever the “this” looks like, here’s our best answer to that question: Did someone say you can only pay by wiring money, putting money on a gift card, or loading money on a cash reload card? If they did, then yes: that is a scam.

Here’s a video that has, in a little more than a minute, some of the scam scenarios we see – and what you should do about them.

Whether someone tells you to pay to claim a prize, help someone out of trouble, or deal with tax issues from the (so-called) IRS: nobody legitimate is ever going to say you have to pay by wiring them money, getting iTunes cards, or putting money on a MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload, or Reloadit card.

So: watch the video. And if anyone ever insists you pay in one of those ways, tell the FTC. Because that will be a scam we want to know about.

Consumers impacted by scams utilizing Western Union may now seek compensation from $586M fund

Attorney General Mills encourages fraud victims to file claims

PRESS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
November 13, 2017
CONTACT: Andrew Roth-Wells Telephone: (207) 626-8887

AUGUSTA – Mainers who were deceived into sending payments to scammers using Western Union’s wire transfer service between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017 may now apply for compensation from a $586 million fund administered by the Department of Justice’s Victim Asset Recovery Program. This fund is related to a multi-state settlement with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and 49 other states, the District of Columbia, and Western Union that was first announced in January.

Mainers who reported to the Maine Office of the Attorney General that they had been the victim of a scam using Western Union will receive a claim form in the mail in the coming weeks, which will contain instructions explaining how to file a claim for compensation. If you do not receive a claim form in the mail but believe you may have an eligible claim, visit http://www.westernunionremission.com or call 1-844-319-2124.

“I ask all Mainers who have been scammed out of money and were asked to use Western Union to make these fraud-induced payments to file for reimbursement from this fund,” said Attorney General Mills. “I realize some may be embarrassed that they fell for a scam. You are not alone. Do not be embarrassed, please take this opportunity to get some of your money back. If you ever wire money, keep in mind that it’s illegal for a telemarketer to ask you to pay with a money transfer. Scammers love using money transfer services because once you send the money, it’s gone forever. So, if a telemarketer asks you to wire money, already you know they’re a crook.”

In order to receive restitution under the settlement claims forms must be mailed back to the settlement administrator by February 12, 2018. Attorney General Mills encourages consumers to reach out to the Consumer Protection Division if they have questions or concerns at consumer.mediation@maine.gov , (207) 626-8849 or 1-800-436-2131.

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Original story

SCAM ALERT: Senate Aging Committee Warns to Beware of Scams Targeting Veterans

Need Help? Call the Senate Aging Committee’s Toll Free Fraud Hotline:  1-855-303-9470

Washington, D.C.—Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor the sacrifices made by our nation’s veterans and their families. Yet, there are scam artists who target these men and women as potential victims and who try to capitalize on patriotism to rob all Americans of their hard-earned money.

As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), have made fighting fraud against older Americans a top priority.

This Veterans Day, they are warning the public of various scams that specifically target veterans.  Some of these schemes include benefit scams, imposter scams, or charity scams that use the word “veteran” to try and trick unsuspecting donors into giving money to fraudsters.

“Veterans Day is a day to honor and thank those who served in our nation’s armed forces” said Senator Collins. “Despite our deep gratitude for their service and sacrifice, the unfortunate reality is there are criminals and scammers who will always exploit others to make a quick buck. We must keep working to ensure the public is aware of these scams, which can either target our nation’s heroes or prey on those who want to support them.”

“On Veterans Day, and every day, it is important that we honor the extraordinary sacrifice of those who put their life on the line to serve, defend and protect our country and fellow citizens,” Senator Casey said. “It is our duty to ensure that our veterans, their families and caregivers do not become victims to scam artists who seek to defraud them of their hard-earned benefits. I will continue working to stop unscrupulous people who try to profit in the name of patriotism.”

Charity scams that target people’s sense of giving and patriotism are particularly prevalent around Veterans Day.  Criminals posing as charitable organizations and claiming to benefit veterans and their families will often use the word “veteran” to try and trick unsuspecting Americans.

Donors who want to give money to a legitimate veteran’s organization this Veterans Day should make sure to look into the charity and make a direct payment rather than making a payment through a wire transfer or gift cards.

Benefit scams, or pension advances, will try to charge veterans who are seeking to claim benefits they rightfully earned through the Veterans Administration (VA).  Advisers, who are approved by the VA to help veterans file a pension or other claims, are never allowed to charge for their services.  In addition, imposter scams involve someone claiming to be from the VA seeking personal information.  If you are contacted by someone, either by phone or email, claiming to represent the VA and requesting payment for services or wanting to confirm your personal information, disregard the solicitation and contact the VA directly for assistance.

Other scams can involve phony sales or rentals on the Internet offering veterans or military discounts.  Always be suspicious of anyone requesting upfront payments via wire transfer or gift cards.

Americans who suspect fraud can contact experienced investigators at the Senate Aging Committee’s toll-free Fraud Hotline.

If you have questions or believe you are the victim of a scam, call 1-855-303-9470.

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