Identity theft and fraud

Don’t ‘fall’ for scams

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 10:00am

Ah, fall.

Nature’s breather between summer frolicking and winter shoveling. And the time of year when we begin to think about the shorter and colder days to come.

In the spirit of being prepared, (and with school starting soon) here is some updated information about scams, keeping personal information secure and cell phone safety.

According to the financial reporting bureau Experian, last year there were 47,567 different types of scams reported to the Better Business Bureau. Hard to believe that there are that many ways to scam people, but the scammers all have the same goal — getting their hands on your hard earned money.

Some of the newer varieties include:

- Airbnb: False listings for rental homes are posted online and direct the victim to a false website for payment.

- Amazon order cancelled: False emails claiming that an Amazon order has been cancelled. Opening any link in the email downloads malware.

- Netflix “payment declined” scam: The email claims to be from Netflix and asks for the victim to open a link and provide credit card information.

- Patrick Dempsey fundraiser: Scammers asked for donations to the actor’s non-profit using their false website.

- And checking into a report that’s been circulating on the internet since 2004, there is a supposed scam involving cashiers who add a cash back amount at the register and then pocket the money when shoppers use a credit card for payment. has identified this as an internet hoax, according to a Texas police department. While most resources say this is not really a scam, it does make sense to check receipts carefully when you’re shopping.

Sometimes, the good guys do get a break. Here are some updates that actually mean good news for honest folks:

- If you were one of the 12,140 victims scammed into sending money to Global Access Technical Support, Global sMind, Global S Connect, Yubdata Tech, and Technolive to resolve an issue on your computer, the FTC has $802,000 in refunds.   

- Equifax will pay $700 million for a data breach in 2017 that affected 150 million people. Aside from fines, $425 million will be provided to consumers.

And here’s a timely back-to-school item that was suggested by Assistant Editor Susan Johns:

- Be careful about how much of your child’s information you put on display. Labeling is needed for water bottles, jackets and backpacks and other items but be careful not to turn these into a moving billboard that shares your child’s name with strangers. The same is true for displays on car windows, showing family members with children’s names. Any of these can be used by a stranger to convince your child that the stranger is a family friend.

One method that’s suggested by security experts is to have a symbol or color that can be drawn on the item that helps the child identify his or her items without displaying the child’s name.

Don’t forget cell phone safety as youngsters head back-to-school.

- Experts suggest that establishing rules can make cell phones safer in the hands of youngsters. Here are some suggested “don’ts” that should be given to children along with their first cell phone:

  1. Don’t take a photo or video of someone without first asking them if it’s OK.
  2. Don’t tell everyone your phone number and don’t put it on Facebook or other social media.
  3. Don’t answer texts or calls unless the number is one you know.
  4. Don’t post your location.
  5. Don’t download any app without first getting parental approval.

Here’s hoping that fall will be long, the winter will be mild and that – young or old – each of us stays safe.