Scam Alerts

Posted April 2014

 

Better Business Bureau Warns Seniors of Deceptive Telemarking Calls Offering Free Medical Alert Devices

BBB is alerting seniors and caretakers to be wary of phone calls or voicemails from a company offering a “free” personal alarm system. BBB Serving Greater Cleveland has reported an influx of inquiries in recent days about a company using a variety of different names such as “Medical Emergency,” “Medical Alert Company,” “First Alert Company,” “Life Alert USA,” and “Medical Alarms Hewlett.” The company claims to be offering a “free” medical alert system and tells the listener that the system will be provided to them because a family member or a friend believes they should have it, and that the system and shipping is already paid for. In many cases, seniors who have provided their bank account or credit card information to “verify” their identity have found they were charged the monthly service fee, usually around $35.00, then the system never arrived or they had trouble returning it and obtaining a refund.

A Cleveland woman reported to BBB in mid-May that Medical Alarms Hewlett called her, offering a new system. At first, she thought it may have been the same brand her late husband had used. When the product arrived, she realized it wasn’t the brand she assumed it was and called the company to get directions to return it. The company hung up on her at first, but she eventually got through to someone who told her to ship it back to Life Alert USA at a Lynbrook, NY address. (BBB records show a company named Lifewatch, Inc. at that address.) She is still disputing a $34.95 monthly service fee that was debited to her account.

“These companies, they use so many names and they all sound alike, Medical Alert, Alert Services, Medical Life System, Alert USA…It’s confusing and they know that.” she said. The use of names that are similar to well known marketers of medical alert devices is a problem. So much so that Life Alert, the California company made famous by its “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” advertising, is suing two businesses it says are using its name in “robo-calls” to gain new customers.

The lawsuit charges LifeWatch USA and Connect America with impersonating Life Alert through fraudulent “robo-calls” and other telemarketing to obtain new customers. Both companies deny the allegations and this matter is pending.

Callers have been described as “pushy” and may use scare tactics to intimidate seniors into providing sensitive information. “Unfortunately our seniors are at the highest risk of being victimized by deceptive sales tactics and targeted for identity theft” says David Weiss, President of BBB Serving Greater Cleveland. “While pushy sales tactics aren’t themselves illegal, we encourage seniors and their caretakers alike to ask questions and to look for red flags associated with a scam.”

Additionally, BBB is warning consumers not to provide sensitive personal or financial information to cold-calling companies. Notes Weiss “One never knows what ethically-challenged companies or employees will do with sensitive customer information, but it could easily lead to identity theft and financial loss.”

BBB advised consumers to watch for these red flags:

“Free” Offers – Be wary of “free” offers that require you to pay a handling charge or other fees. In the case of medical alert systems, ask if there are additional monthly charges. If the telemarketer says a friend or family member bought the unit, ask for the name of the person and verify with them before agreeing to anything.

Scare Tactics – Being trapped in your own home with no way to call for help can be a scary situation for anyone, but for many seniors, it can be a realistic scenario. Don’t fall for scare tactics.

Calls for Immediate Action – Listen for language like “this offer is good for today only!”

Implied Endorsement or Affiliation with Legitimate Entities – If a seller claims its product has been endorsed by another reputable organization, check directly with that organization for verification.

Refuses to Answer Questions Directly, Provide Contact Info, or Complete Offer Details – Tell the caller you will not provide any information or make any decisions until you get all details in writing.

(Contributors, authors, or editors – Sara Jennings, Sue McConnell, David Weiss)

- See more at: http://www.bbb.org/blog/2013/06/bbb-warns-seniors-of-deceptive-telemarketing-calls-offering-free-medical-alert-devices/#sthash.5G3M80cD.dpuf

BBB is alerting seniors and caretakers to be wary of phone calls or voicemails from a company offering a “free” personal alarm system.  BBB Serving Greater Cleveland has reported an influx of inquiries in recent days about a company using a variety of different names such as “Medical Emergency,” “Medical Alert Company,” “First Alert Company,” “Life Alert USA,” and “Medical Alarms Hewlett.”  The company claims to be offering a “free” medical alert system and tells the listener that the system will be provided to them because a family member or a friend believes they should have it, and that the system and shipping is already paid for.  In many cases, seniors who have provided their bank account or credit card information to “verify” their identity have found they were charged the monthly service fee, usually around $35.00, then the system never arrived or they had trouble returning it and obtaining a refund. 

A Cleveland woman reported to BBB in mid-May that Medical Alarms Hewlett called her, offering a new system. At first, she thought it may have been the same brand her late husband had used. When the product arrived, she realized it wasn’t the brand she assumed it was and called the company to get directions to return it. The company hung up on her at first, but she eventually got through to someone who told  her to ship it back to Life Alert USA at a Lynbrook, NY address.  (BBB records show a company named Lifewatch, Inc. at that address.)  She is still disputing a $34.95 monthly service fee that was debited to her account. 

“These companies, they use so many names and they all sound alike, Medical Alert, Alert Services, Medical Life System, Alert USA…It’s confusing and they know that.” she said. The use of names that are similar to well known marketers of medical alert devices is a problem.  So much so that Life Alert, the California company made famous by its “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” advertising, is suing two businesses it says are using its name in “robo-calls” to gain new customers. 

The lawsuit charges LifeWatch USA and Connect America with impersonating Life Alert through fraudulent “robo-calls” and other telemarketing to obtain new customers. Both companies deny the allegations and this matter is pending.

Callers have been described as “pushy” and may use scare tactics to intimidate seniors into providing sensitive information.  “Unfortunately our seniors are at the highest risk of being victimized by deceptive sales tactics and targeted for identity theft” says David Weiss, President of BBB Serving Greater Cleveland. “While pushy sales tactics aren’t themselves illegal, we encourage seniors and their caretakers alike to ask questions and to look for red flags associated with a scam.” 

Additionally, BBB is warning consumers not to provide sensitive personal or financial information to cold-calling companies. Notes Weiss “One never knows what ethically-challenged companies or employees will do with sensitive customer information, but it could easily lead to identity theft and financial loss.” 

BBB advised consumers to watch for these red flags:

“Free” Offers – Be wary of “free” offers that require you to pay a handling charge or other fees. In the case of medical alert systems, ask if there are additional monthly charges. If the telemarketer says a friend or family member bought the unit, ask for the name of the person and verify with them before agreeing to anything. 

Scare Tactics – Being trapped in your own home with no way to call for help can be a scary situation for anyone, but for many seniors, it can be a realistic scenario.  Don’t fall for scare tactics. 

Calls for Immediate Action – Listen for language like “this offer is good for today only!” 

Implied Endorsement or Affiliation with Legitimate Entities – If a seller claims its product has been endorsed by another reputable organization, check directly with that organization for verification. 

Refuses to Answer Questions Directly, Provide Contact Info, or Complete Offer Details –  Tell the caller you will not provide any information or make any decisions until you get all details in writing.

(Contributors, authors, or editors – Sara Jennings, Sue McConnell, David Weiss)

 - See more at: Better Business blog

BBB is alerting seniors and caretakers to be wary of phone calls or voicemails from a company offering a “free” personal alarm system. BBB Serving Greater Cleveland has reported an influx of inquiries in recent days about a company using a variety of different names such as “Medical Emergency,” “Medical Alert Company,” “First Alert Company,” “Life Alert USA,” and “Medical Alarms Hewlett.” The company claims to be offering a “free” medical alert system and tells the listener that the system will be provided to them because a family member or a friend believes they should have it, and that the system and shipping is already paid for. In many cases, seniors who have provided their bank account or credit card information to “verify” their identity have found they were charged the monthly service fee, usually around $35.00, then the system never arrived or they had trouble returning it and obtaining a refund.

A Cleveland woman reported to BBB in mid-May that Medical Alarms Hewlett called her, offering a new system. At first, she thought it may have been the same brand her late husband had used. When the product arrived, she realized it wasn’t the brand she assumed it was and called the company to get directions to return it. The company hung up on her at first, but she eventually got through to someone who told her to ship it back to Life Alert USA at a Lynbrook, NY address. (BBB records show a company named Lifewatch, Inc. at that address.) She is still disputing a $34.95 monthly service fee that was debited to her account.

“These companies, they use so many names and they all sound alike, Medical Alert, Alert Services, Medical Life System, Alert USA…It’s confusing and they know that.” she said. The use of names that are similar to well known marketers of medical alert devices is a problem. So much so that Life Alert, the California company made famous by its “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” advertising, is suing two businesses it says are using its name in “robo-calls” to gain new customers.

The lawsuit charges LifeWatch USA and Connect America with impersonating Life Alert through fraudulent “robo-calls” and other telemarketing to obtain new customers. Both companies deny the allegations and this matter is pending.

Callers have been described as “pushy” and may use scare tactics to intimidate seniors into providing sensitive information. “Unfortunately our seniors are at the highest risk of being victimized by deceptive sales tactics and targeted for identity theft” says David Weiss, President of BBB Serving Greater Cleveland. “While pushy sales tactics aren’t themselves illegal, we encourage seniors and their caretakers alike to ask questions and to look for red flags associated with a scam.”

Additionally, BBB is warning consumers not to provide sensitive personal or financial information to cold-calling companies. Notes Weiss “One never knows what ethically-challenged companies or employees will do with sensitive customer information, but it could easily lead to identity theft and financial loss.”

BBB advised consumers to watch for these red flags:

“Free” Offers – Be wary of “free” offers that require you to pay a handling charge or other fees. In the case of medical alert systems, ask if there are additional monthly charges. If the telemarketer says a friend or family member bought the unit, ask for the name of the person and verify with them before agreeing to anything.

Scare Tactics – Being trapped in your own home with no way to call for help can be a scary situation for anyone, but for many seniors, it can be a realistic scenario. Don’t fall for scare tactics.

Calls for Immediate Action – Listen for language like “this offer is good for today only!”

Implied Endorsement or Affiliation with Legitimate Entities – If a seller claims its product has been endorsed by another reputable organization, check directly with that organization for verification.

Refuses to Answer Questions Directly, Provide Contact Info, or Complete Offer Details – Tell the caller you will not provide any information or make any decisions until you get all details in writing.

(Contributors, authors, or editors – Sara Jennings, Sue McConnell, David Weiss)

- See more at: http://www.bbb.org/blog/2013/06/bbb-warns-seniors-of-deceptive-telemarketing-calls-offering-free-medical-alert-devices/#sthash.5G3M80cD.dpuf

Posted January 2014

Robocalls

When a company has a computer system dialing phone numbers to "pitch" their product.

 

 Lower credit card interest rate? Mortgage relief? "Free" vacations, medical supplies or home alarms? Changes in your health benefits or bank account? These are bait in current top robocall rip-offs, but new schemes constantly evolve, all seeking your personal or financial information. This year likely will end with another record for these automated and often illegal annoyances, says Federal Trade Commission official Lois Greisman, who oversees the National Do Not Call Registry.

"Our law enforcement actions have already halted billions of robocalls, but with today's technology, tens of millions can be blasted each day - at a per minute calling cost of less than 1 cent," Greisman says.

The fact is, certain kinds of robocalls are legal and useful.  Airlines can call with an automated alert that your flight has been canceled, for instance, and schools can phone with a message that students are being sent home early because of  impending weather related issues.  Nonprofit membership organizations, including AARP, can call members with pertinent information, such as upcoming events about retirement planning, Social Security or consumer scams.

Flat-out commercial pitches are illegal unless you've given permission in writing.

When these kinds of calls come in, your caller ID usually displays "spoofed" numbers - outright fakes or those stolen from legitimate organizations or citizens- or just says "unknown."

"Dozens and dozens of spoofed numbers can be used per robocall campaign, and telemarketing scripts are shared as well," says Greisman, explaining why you may get the same rip-off recording from different incoming numbers.

And it's usually not personal.  Although lists of real phone numbers are sometimes used, typically a sequence of phone number is programmed- say, dial X numbers with Y area code over Z period - and computerized systems start calling.  The scammers often don't know who owns those numbers, whether they're on the registry, or even if the numbers are actually in operation.

Here's how to protect yourself

  • Don't help them harass you.  If you "press any key" as instructed - either to "opt out" or to be transferred to someone ( if only to complain about the call) - you're logging your number as working. . . and ripe for future calls.  Hang up without pressing any key.

  • Block robocall numbers.  To do this, contact your phone service provider.  But think twice before paying for this protection since the numbers displayed on caller IDs are changed frequently.  Learn about a promising free alternative at www.nomorobo.com.

  • File complaints.  Although most caller ID - displayed numbers are spoofed, report them to ftc.gov/complaint or call 888-382-1222 toll - free.  You'll be helping the FTC identify violators.

This article is from AARP bulletin.

 

 

Posted November 2013

Banking and Securities Department Warns Consumers about Suspected Scam

 

Harrisburg – The Department of Banking and Securities is alerting the public about an advance fee loan scam being perpetrated under the name Northlawn Lending.

 

Over the Internet, Northlawn solicits personal and business loans, as well as debt consolidation services and refinancing.

 

Several consumers who were solicited for loans, but did not actually apply for loans, alerted the department when they called the department’s Office of Consumer Services to inquire about the legality of such loans.

 

Northlawn Lending represents itself as a company in Camp Hill, Pa. There is no such company located in Camp Hill or licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities.

 

“Unfortunately, we are seeing more of this kind of activity as consumers use Internet search engines looking for financial assistance and end up on the websites of unlicensed operators,” said Secretary of Banking and Securities Glenn E. Moyer.

 

“I urge consumers to take steps to ensure that lenders soliciting them are properly licensed or chartered to do business in Pennsylvania,” Moyer said.

 

Consumers can call the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities at 1-800-PA-BANKS (1-800-722-2657) or visit www.dobs.state.pa.us to make inquiries or file complaints against financial services providers.

 

 

Posted June 2013

The $8,000 Vacuum ?

Two seniors from California, live solely on their Social Security benefits of $2,200 a month.  The last thing they could afford or even wanted was a $4,400 vacuum cleaner.  But they bought a vacuum after two door to door salesmen who said they were students at the nearby college convinced them it was worth two months of their total income.

Mister, who is 74 and has early stage dementia, let them inside the home while Misses was baking cookies.  They wore us down until we finally gave in, said Misses, 73.  Sound familiar?  Now is the busy season for the door to door sales.  Some salespeople, of course, are honest folks trying to make a living: others are con artists. 

Now, you are thinking are you kidding, but this is happening to people who are being pushed to buying things they really don't want or need.

Here's how to protect yourself.

Don't engage them. As most of this generation we were raised to be polite, and courteous.  One of the reasons other older Americans are so often targeted from door to door sales.  The easiest way to avoid a hard sell: Keep the door closed.

Be wary of contract offers.  Think spending $4,400 for a vacuum cleaner is bad?  Actually, the total cost was more than $8,000.  That's because one of the salesmen provided a contract allowing the couple to finance their purchase through a company that he recommended.  The terms: No money down, but payments of $112 a month for six years at 18 percent interest.  Weary from the long sales pitch, they admitted they  didn't fully understand the terms when they signed.  Always give yourself time to review the offer.  Honest salespeople will understand.

Buyer's remorse?? Act quickly.  if you buy anything costing $25 or more from a door to door salesperson, the Federal Trade Commission's "cooling-off rule" gives you three days to cancel for a full refund.  Misses and Mister waited 11 days before calling the salesman asking that he take back the vacuum.  He refused saying we waited too long.

Technically, he was correct.  But that federal mandate also requires sellers to tell you about your cancellation rights at the time of sale.  Misses says that the salesman provided the cancellation notices in a sealed envelope, which she didn't open for 10 days.  So when she contacted the Better Business Bureau, she was told she was out of luck.  She waited three months before telling family members about her foolish purchase.  One of them notified Scam Alert. 

http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/?CMP=KNC-360I-GOOGLE-MON-SCA&HBX_PK=scam_alert&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=scam%2Balert&utm_campaign=Money%2BSection&360cid=SI_553986955_22442960341_1

They immediately called the president of the company, and found out that the salesmen were independent distributors who buy the vacuums from them and then sell deciding on their selling price.   The president decided to contact the elderly couple and took the vacuum back and cancel the financing contract.

Don't engage,  - say No thanks.

Be wary of contract offers -  tell them you want to think about it.

Buyer's remorse - Act quickly - you have three days to cancel the contract and get a full refund.

Article is from the AARP bulletin for June 2013

 

 

Posted March  2013

 

 Say No to *72

The scam: A terrible phone call to a Sioux Falls, SD, man tells him of a death in the family, asks him to call another number for details and to begin his cell phone call with the code *72. What this actually does is transfer all calls sent to the cell phone to the number the caller has given -- the scammer's own number.

The scammer then gives your number to his buddies anywhere in the world and they can phone him via your cell, with you picking up the charges -- and knowing nothing about it -- until you get your bill.

The solution: Don't use the *72 or any other forwarding code to forward calls to a number you don't know or recognize. You can enter *73 to clear call forwarding. (We're not sure if *72 and *73 are the forwarding codes for all cell phones. Check your cell phone manual or talk to your carrier.)

 

Posted February 2013

 

$299 Prescription Drug Phone Scam

The Pennsylvania Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) has received calls about a prescription drug phone scam affecting PA seniors.  The scammer offers a new prescription drug plan for checking account information and social security number.  STOP, DO NOT GIVE OUT THIS INFORMATION!  If you give it out, he may deduct $299 dollars from your checking account but the drug plan he offered doesn't not exist.  Don't believe anyone who threatens to take away your Medicare benefits if you do not sign up for their plan!  Call and get the truth 1.800.356.3606  C.A.R.I.E., Center for advocacy for the rights and interest of the elderly.

 

Posted November 2012

Holiday Shopping Tips

This holiday season, the FBI reminds shoppers that cyber criminals aggressively create new ways to steal money and personal information. Scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims, including conducting fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with stolen credit cards, and selling fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at discounted prices.

Fraudulent Classified Ads and Auction Sales

Internet criminals post classified ads and auctions for products they do not have and make the scam work by using stolen credit cards. Fraudsters receive an order from a victim, charge the victim’s credit card for the amount of the order, then use a separate, stolen credit card for the actual purchase. They pocket the purchase price obtained from the victim’s credit card and have the merchant ship the item directly to the victim. Consequently, an item purchased from an online auction but received directly from the merchant is a strong indication of fraud. Victims of such a scam not only lose the money paid to the fraudster, but may be liable for receiving stolen goods.

Shoppers may help avoid these scams by using caution and not providing financial information directly to the seller, as fraudulent sellers will use this information to purchase items for their schemes. Always use a legitimate payment service to ensure a safe, legitimate purchase.

As for product delivery, fraudsters posing as legitimate delivery services offer reduced or free shipping to customers through auction sites. They perpetuate this scam by providing fake shipping labels to the victim. The fraudsters do not pay for delivery of the packages; therefore, delivery service providers intercept the packages for nonpayment and the victim loses the money paid for the purchase of the product.

Diligently check each seller’s rating and feedback along with their number of sales and the dates on which feedback was posted. Be wary of a seller with 100 percent positive feedback, with a low total number of feedback postings, or with all feedback posted around the same date and time.

Gift Card Scam

Be careful when purchasing gift cards through auction sites or classified ads. It is safest to purchase gift cards directly from the merchant or retail store. If the gift card merchant discovers that your card is fraudulent, the merchant will deactivate the gift card and refuse to honor it for purchases. Victims of this scam lose the money paid for the gift card purchase.

Phishing and Smishing Schemes

In phishing schemes, a fraudster poses as a legitimate entity and uses e-mail and scam websites to obtain victims’ personal information, such as account numbers, user names, passwords, etc. Smishing is the act of sending fraudulent text messages to bait a victim into revealing personal information.

Be leery of e-mails or text messages that indicate a problem or question regarding your financial accounts. In this scam, fraudsters direct victims to follow a link or call a number to update an account or correct a purported problem. The link directs the victim to a fraudulent website or message that appears legitimate. Instead, the site allows the fraudster to steal any personal information the victim provides.

Current smishing schemes involve fraudsters calling victims’ cell phones offering to lower the interest rates for credit cards the victims do not even possess. If a victim asserts that they do not own the credit card, the caller hangs up. These fraudsters call from TRAC cell phones that do not have voicemail, or the phone provides a constant busy signal when called, rendering these calls virtually untraceable.

Another scam involves fraudsters directing victims, via e-mail, to a spoofed website. A spoofed website is a fake site that misleads the victim into providing personal information, which is routed to the scammer’s computer.

Phishing schemes related to deliveries are also rampant. Legitimate delivery service providers neither e-mail shippers regarding scheduled deliveries nor state when a package is intercepted or being temporarily held. Consequently, e-mails informing of such delivery issues are phishing scams that can lead to personal information breaches and financial losses.

Tips

Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:

■Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
■Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
■Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Scan the attachments for viruses if possible.
■Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
■Always compare the link in the e-mail with the link to which you are directed and determine if they match and will lead you to a legitimate site.
■Log directly onto the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
■Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify if the e-mail is genuine.
■If you are asked to act quickly, or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly.
■Verify any requests for personal information from any business or financial institution by contacting them using the main contact information.
■Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
 

 

Posted August 2012

Do Not Call Registry

 

Scammers have been making phone calls claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry.  The calls claim to provide and opportunity to sign up for the Registry.  These calls are not coming from the Registry or Federal Trade Commission, and you should not respond to these calls.  To add you number to the Registry you can call 888-382-1222 from the phone you wish to register, or go click on "Register a Phone Number" on our web site www.ftc.gov.

Your registration will not expire.  Telephone numbers place on the National Do Not Call Registry will remain on it permanently due to the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007, which became law in February 2008.  

 

 

Posted July 2012

A computer pop-up 


05/30/12—The IC3 has been made aware of a new Citadel mal-ware platform used to deliver ransom ware, named Reveton. The ransom ware lures the victim to a drive-by download website, at which time the ransom ware is installed on the user’s computer. Once installed, the computer freezes and a screen is displayed warning the user they have violated United States federal law. The message further declares the user’s IP address was identified by the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section as visiting child pornography and other illegal content.
To unlock the computer, the user is instructed to pay a $100 fine to the U.S. Department of Justice using prepaid money card services. The geographic location of the user’s IP address determines what payment services are offered. In addition to the ransomware, the Citadel malware continues to operate on the compromised computer and can be used to commit online banking and credit card fraud.
This is an attempt to extort money with the additional possibility of the victim’s computer being used to participate in online bank fraud. If you have received this or something similar, do not follow payment instructions.
It is suggested that you:
Contact your banking institutions.
File a complaint at www.IC3.gov.
 

 

Posted July 2012

Malware Installed on Travelers’ Laptops Through Software Updates on Hotel Internet Connections

05/08/12—Recent analysis from the FBI and other government agencies demonstrates that malicious actors are targeting travelers abroad through pop-up windows while they are establishing an Internet connection in their hotel rooms.
Recently, there have been instances of travelers’ laptops being infected with malicious software while using hotel Internet connections. In these instances, the traveler was attempting to set up the hotel room Internet connection and was presented with a pop-up window notifying the user to update a widely used software product. If the user clicked to accept and install the update, malicious software was installed on the laptop. The pop-up window appeared to be offering a routine update to a legitimate software product for which updates are frequently available.
The FBI recommends that all government, private industry, and academic personnel who travel abroad take extra caution before updating software products through their hotel Internet connection. Checking the author or digital certificate of any prompted update to see if it corresponds to the software vendor may reveal an attempted attack. The FBI also recommends that travelers perform software updates on laptops immediately before traveling, and that they download software updates directly from the software vendor’s website if updates are necessary while abroad.
Anyone who believes they have been a target of this type of attack should immediately contact their local FBI office and promptly report it to the IC3’s website at www.IC3.gov. The IC3’s complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration. The complaint information is also used to identify emerging trends and patterns.
 

 

 

Posted June 2012

Medicare Scam

Residents from all over Pennsylvania have received calls from scammers claiming to be "from Medicare."  The scammer states that Medicare is sending out new cards and then instructs the beneficiary to give the scammer their checking account number in order to receive the new card.  In at least tow cases, the scammer already had the beneficiary's address, bank name, and bank routing number!!!

If you receive a call like this, hang up the phone!!

REMEMBER:

Medicare will never  call you to sell you anything

and will NEVER ask for your checking account number.

to report a similar scam or other Medicare fraud,

Please call the Pennsylvania Senior Medicare Patrol

1-800-356-3606

We are here to help!

 

Posted March 2012

Medicare Beneficiaries urged to be on the look-out for phone scams

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) warns seniors and people with disabilities to be aware of a scheme that asks Medicare beneficiaries for money and checking account information to help them enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

This scheme is called the “$299 Ring” for the typical amount of money Medicare beneficiaries are talked into withdrawing from their checking accounts to pay for a non-existent prescription drug plan.  Consumers can report these cases to their local law enforcement agencies or 1-877-7SAFERX (1-877-772-3379). 

Medicare has received complaints from Indiana  , Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts New Jersey and Georgia. Complaints have been made against a number of different companies, but authorities believe that the companies are the same and are typically based outside the U. S.  As soon as CMS receives these complaints, they are investigated and referred to federal law enforcement authorities.

No Medicare drug plan can ask a person with Medicare for bank account or other personal information over the telephone.  No beneficiary should ever provide that kind of information to a caller.  They should contact their local police department if they believe someone is trying to take money or information from them illegally.

 People with Medicare should also remember that they should be on the lookout for anyone trying to take advantage of them and take steps to protect themselves by remembering:

·        No one can come into your home uninvited.

·        No one can ask you for personal information during their marketing activities.

·        Always keep all personal information, such as your Medicare number, safe, just as you would a credit card or a bank account number.

·        Whenever you have a question or concern about any activity regarding Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE.

 In addition, legitimate Medicare drug plans will not ask for payment over the telephone or the Internet.  They must bill the beneficiary for the monthly premium. Typically, that amount is set up as an automatic withdrawal from the beneficiary’s monthly Social Security check.  Beneficiaries may also opt to pay the monthly premiums in other ways such as writing a check or setting up automatic payments from their checking accounts.

 

Posted January 2012

Health Care Fraud or Health Insurance Fraud

Medical Equipment Fraud:

Equipment manufacturers offer "free" products to individuals. Insurers are then charged for products that were not needed and/or may not have been delivered.

"Rolling Lab" Schemes:

Unnecessary and sometimes fake tests are given to individuals at health clubs, retirement homes, or shopping malls and billed to insurance companies or Medicare.

Services Not Performed:

Customers or providers bill insurers for services never rendered by changing bills or submitting fake ones.

Medicare Fraud:

Medicare fraud can take the form of any of the health insurance frauds described above. Senior citizens are frequent targets of Medicare schemes, especially by medical equipment manufacturers who offer seniors free medical products in exchange for their Medicare numbers. Because a physician has to sign a form certifying that equipment or testing is needed before Medicare pays for it, con artists fake signatures or bribe corrupt doctors to sign the forms. Once a signature is in place, the manufacturers bill Medicare for merchandise or service that was not needed or was not ordered.

Tips for Avoiding Health Care Fraud or Health Insurance Fraud:
 


■Never sign blank insurance claim forms.
■Never give blanket authorization to a medical provider to bill for services rendered.
■Ask your medical providers what they will charge and what you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket.
■Carefully review your insurer's explanation of the benefits statement. Call your insurer and provider if you have questions.
■Do not do business with door-to-door or telephone salespeople who tell you that services of medical equipment are free.
■Give your insurance/Medicare identification only to those who have provided you with medical services.
■Keep accurate records of all health care appointments.
■Know if your physician ordered equipment for you.
 

Reverse Mortgage Scams

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) urge consumers, especially senior citizens, to be vigilant when seeking reverse mortgage products. Reverse mortgages, also known as home equity conversion mortgages (HECM), have increased more than 1,300 percent between 1999 and 2008, creating significant opportunities for fraud perpetrators.

Reverse mortgage scams are engineered by unscrupulous professionals in a multitude of real estate, financial services, and related companies to steal the equity from the property of unsuspecting senior citizens or to use these seniors to unwittingly aid the fraudsters in stealing equity from a flipped property.

In many of the reported scams, victim seniors are offered free homes, investment opportunities, and foreclosure or refinance assistance. They are also used as straw buyers in property flipping scams. Seniors are frequently targeted through local churches and investment seminars, as well as television, radio, billboard, and mailer advertisements.

A legitimate HECM loan product is insured by the Federal Housing Authority. It enables eligible homeowners to access the equity in their homes by providing funds without incurring a monthly payment. Eligible borrowers must be 62 years or older who occupy their property as their primary residence and who own their property or have a small mortgage balance. See the FBI/HUD Intelligence Bulletin for specific details on HECMs as well as other foreclosure rescue and investment schemes.

Tips for Avoiding Reverse Mortgage Scams:
 

■Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements.
■Be suspicious of anyone claiming that you can own a home with no down payment.
■Do not sign anything that you do not fully understand.
■Do not accept payment from individuals for a home you did not purchase.
■Seek out your own reverse mortgage counselor.


If you are a victim of this type of fraud and want to file a complaint, please submit information through our electronic tip line or through your local FBI office. You may also file a complaint with HUD-OIG at www.hud.gov/complaints/fraud_waste.cfm or by calling HUD’s hotline at 1-800-347-3735.

 

Posted October 2011

Medicare Scam

This scam like others, is an attempt to obtain beneficiaries' Medicare numbers in exchange for "free products or services".

One woman reported receiving this call:

A man called and stated he was from ABC Health, a certified Medicare provider.  This man told the beneficiary that ABC Health was offering free back braces (or some other device like a motorized chair), and that all he needed was her Medicare number.  He was persistent and repeated the request several times, while reassuring the beneficiary that ABC Health was a certified Medicare provider.

Luckily, the targeted woman knew not to give up her Medicare number, and to be wary of unsolicited callers.  She asked several questions, and managed to get their telephone number.  She then called Medicare to report them.

It is very important to remember the following tips:

  • Protect - Never give out your Medicare number to unsolicited callers
  • Detect - If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Report - If you receive a similar call or would like to report a scam, call the Senior Medicare Patrol at CARRIE (Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly).  A real person will answer your call, no buttons to push or menus to follow.  CARRIE phone number :1-800-356-3606.

 

Posted September 2011

Email With Banking information Scam

Email have been received from Scam Banking email account: Re: Please sign into your bank account right away someone has access to you money.  Then they give a link for you to click on and follow.  This leads you to what looks like your bank on line...............DO NOT FOLLOW THE LINK OR SIGH IN UNDER THIS BANK ACCOUNT LINK.

This is a good replica of the real bank account web site except it isn't your bank account web site.

Your bank will not contact you with this sensitive information.  If you get this email call you bank or stop in at the bank with the email printed out.  These counterfeit bank scams have been successful in getting peoples account numbers and robbing them of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Posted August 2011

You are a Winner!

An elderly resident reported receiving phone calls from a male identifying himself as a representative from Publisher Clearing House.
The male was telling her that she won an automobile and attempted to get the resident to pay for insurance upfront before the car could be delivered.  The resident refused and informed her relatives of the call.  While the relatives were discussing the first few calls at the house, another call came in and this caller identified himself as a representative from the Philadelphia Police Department who indicated he was aware of the person calling them and that they were investigating the caller.
The resident was given a phone number and contact name which turned. out to be fake.  The resident did not suffer a loss in this incident. This incident was an attempt to obtain important information from the victim by fraud.
Residents are cautioned against giving out any personal information over the phone. They are urged to verify information from the caller or contact their local police department.

Posted July 2011

Hotel Scams

That chain lock on and the room safe aren't as secure as you might think.

Take these critical precautions during your next hotel stay.  For example:

  • Ask about security cameras
  • Does the door have a deadbolt?
  • Don't allow anyone in without Identification (ID)

Top 5 Travel Scams

Don't fall victim to any of the travel scams that have made this list on your way to your dream vacation. Travel related fraud is a major consumer concern. The National Fraud Information Center has near the top of the fraud list. There are so many and they've become so clever that it's hard sometimes to tell a real deal from a phony. Many of them are in the "Too good to be true" category but not all. Sometimes "hard sell" tactics are used. Others simply fail to provide to goods or services promised. Avoiding travel scams isn't always easy Our list below contains some of the worst travel scams.  www.fraudguides.com/travel-top-scams.asp

 

Posted May 2011

Postal Mail Scams

Tips to Avoid Being Scammed

There are several easy ways to protect yourself from postal mail scams.

1. Shred all mail after reading.  This includes, correspondence from your bank, credit card company, insurance company, mortgage provider, all utility bills -anything that has your personal information on it.

2. Shred or throw away any letters claiming you have won money in a lottery or sweepstakes you do not remember entering.

3. Call 1-888-567-8688 or log onto www.optoutprescreen.com to stop the flood of pre-approved credit card and insurance offers.  These unsolicited offers are used by scammers to steal your identity - so stop them before they come.

4.  Remember that, unfortunately, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 

Counterfeit Drug Scams

Posted February 2011

Consumers have lots of choices for buying prescription drugs these days. But beware – counterfeit drugs are on the rise. You might throw your money away on ineffective drugs, or even worse, you could be harmed by taking drugs that aren't what they pretend to be.

Know your medications.
If you know the size, shape, color, taste, and side effects of the prescriptions you take, you will more easily identify possible counterfeits. Contact your pharmacist or doctor if you notice anything different about a medication.

Pay attention to packaging.
Check for altered or unsealed containers, or changes in the packaging or label. Contact your pharmacist or doctor if you notice any changes.

Only buy prescription medications from a safe, reputable source.
If the seller is unfamiliar check with your state board of pharmacy or the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy at www.nabp.net (click on "Who We Are" on the left and then "Boards of Pharmacy" for a list of state boards) or call 847-698-6227. These sources can tell you if the pharmacy is licensed.

When you buy medications online, make sure the seller
is properly licensed.
Check with your state board of pharmacy or the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy at www.nabp.net (click on "Who We Are" on the left and then "Boards of Pharmacy" for a list of state boards) or call 847-698-6227.   (see more at http://www.stopseniorscams.org )

 

Posted September 2010

Inheritance Scam

 Your long lost cousin, nephew, brother, mother, did not die in a car accident. This relates to the "next of kin" or "inheritance" scam. You will not be collecting millions of dollars because someone shares the same last name. These scammers will always ask for money to pay for this document or that permit for funds release, etc etc. Don’t be fooled, it is a scam!
 

Winning Lottery Ticket

There is no such thing as winning the lottery through your email address. If you receive an email saying you were selected through email or told for any other reason you have won a lottery, it is a scam! Do not reply. No matter how tempting it is, please don’t respond. It is for your own good! Lottery scams come in many forms.
 

Posted August 2010

Phone Scam

Your phone rings and a machine is on the other ends saying " this is your bank calling there is a problem with your account please follow the automated system to help correct this problem.  Then it instructs you on how to reply Press 1 for more information, etc.

DO NOT REPLY, HANG UP AND CALL YOUR BANK and REPORT IT.

THIS IS A SCAM TO GET YOUR BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER.

Your bank will not call you and ask for information.  If anyone calls you and asks for on your personal information say "no thank you" and hang up.  If they are a reputable company they will not call you with a machine or even call you at all.  Most of these calls are automated machines.  If it is a human being calling tell them to mail it to you.  NEVER EVER GIVE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, YOUR BANK ACCOUNT NUMBERS OR OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE.  There are a lot of scams and con men or women who would love to get your private information.  Please stop and think, does this sound right?   Do not give out that information.

 

For other scams go to www.fbi.gov and check out  "Be Crime Smart" at the bottom of the page.

Posted June 2010

How to Recognize Email Identity Theft Scams

(This article came from www.ehow.com.)

Every day you probably find dozens of spam emails clogging your inbox. Among them you may see warnings that you must contact your bank to prevent your account from being frozen or that you must download information to double check a purchase you don't remember making. These are common examples of email identity theft scams. You must learn to recognize them in order to keep your personal information safe from thieves.
Step 1
Evaluate whether the subject line or the email is aimed at scaring you into immediate action. This is known as social engineering. Identity thieves will send an email designed to frighten you enough to take immediate action, such as inputting your bank or credit card information, without thinking more closely about whether the message is actually legitimate.
Step 2
Read the email closely to see if it ever refers to you by name. Most identity theft scams use emails that refer to the recipient in generic terms. The emails claim to be from your bank, credit card company or another legitimate sender, but they refer to you generically as "Dear Customer," "Dear Accountholder" or some other general title.
Step 3
Check the email address of the sender. Although return addresses can be spoofed, many scammers who send identity theft emails don't even bother to disguise their return address. They may claim to be writing to you from a financial institution, government agency or auction site, but their address will be from Yahoo!, Hotmail or another free email provider.
Step 4
Move your mouse over any links in the email to see where they would actually send you. Do not click the links because you could be taken to a site that will download viruses or malicious software. When you move your mouse over the link, the target will appear at the bottom of your browser window. Often the link will have text that seems to indicate it belongs to a bank or other legitimate site, but it will actually take you to an entirely different web page.
Step 5
Skim the email to see what information it asks you to provide. Identity theft scammers send emails to collect such information as names, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and anything else that can be used to steal your identity, drain your accounts and run up bills in your name. Any email that asks for personal information is suspicious.
Step 6
Note whether there are any attachments that arrived with the email. Many identity theft emails don't even blatantly ask for information or try to trick you into visiting plishing websites. They attempt to trick you into downloading a virus that will steal information right from your computer.
 

 Posted Feb 2010 Older Scam


an old email scam still tried

Request for urgent confidential relationship

Re: Transfer of US $48,600,000.00 Million American Dollars into your account.

After our deliberation with my colleagues I decided to forward you this business proposal.  However, the current unfavorable political / economic climate in the county since the beginning of the new year 2010 fiscal period now presents an opportunity for this money to be transferred out of the country without being noticed.  We want a reliable person who could assist us to transfer the sum of forty-eight million and six hundred thousand United States dollars only ($48,600,000.00) into his or her account.

The fund resulted from an over invoiced bill from a contract awarded by us under the budget allocation to my ministry and the bill was approved for payment by the concerned ministries.  The contract was duly executed, commissioned and the contractor was paid his actual cost of the contract.  We are left with the balance of $48,600,000.00 as the over - invoiced amount which we have deliberately over estimated for our own use.  But under our protocol division civil servant are forbidden to operate or own a foreign account.  This is why I contact you for assistance.  We have agreed to share the money as follows:

1. 30% for your account owner

2. 60% for us

3. 10% for tax as may be required by your government

The letter goes on to ask for your bank name and account information etc.

DO NO REPLY - DELETE IMMEDIATELY!

NO ONE GIVES YOU SOMETHING FOR NOTING

Scam Alert!

(posted Dec 2009)

(this article came from The Readers Digest)

Please beware of fake- check scams.

Con artists are preying on consumers and fraudulently using the names of trusted companies like Reader's Digest.  Some scams mimic prize award notifications.  victims receive a phony check and are asked to return a portion of the winnings to the sender.

Remember, a legitimate sweepstakes never asks an entrant or a winner to pay money to collect a prize.  If someone says you've won and asks for payment of any kind, contact the national Consumers League at 1701 K Street NW, Suite 1200, Washington, D.C. 200006, or go to fakechecks.org.  Learn more at readersdigest.com/scam.

 

 

Scam Alert ! 

(posted August 09)

Did someone call at your home recently to ask questions about the upcoming US Census?

Maybe they wanted to know if you had another home -- like a vacation place or a casita in the backyard.

That's fine. US Census Bureau people have already been out door-stepping to verify addresses and other info and will continue to do so over the next year.

The Census is a count, every 10 years, of everyone living in the United States. It is a confidential data gathering exercise which relies, in the main, on you filling in a form, not telling it to someone over the threshold of your property.

The Bureau will mail out the form in March next year (2010). If you don't complete and return it, they'll send a second one. If you still don't reply, they'll come knocking at your door.

They'll want to know about every person living at each address including name, age, gender, race, ethnic origin, birth date, marital status, employment status and other relevant data.

And you're legally obliged to tell them.

But if they seem to be seeking more detailed, personal information about you, be very wary. It could be a scam.

Of course, the scammers are hoping you won't know that and are already out in force.

Obviously, it makes sense to return the form because, then, apart from the verification process, the Bureau won't come calling.

So, how can you tell if the person you're dealing with, face-to-face, on the phone or by letter is genuine?

Well, here are a few clues:

  • Genuine census workers will not ask for your Social Security number or any confidential, personal financial information like bank account and credit card numbers.

  • They won't ask you for money or claim that you owe it.

  • The Census does not involve collection of data either by email or through online websites; the Census Bureau may communicate with you via email but will not ask for information or ask you to click a link or attachment.

  • Genuine Census workers carry official identification, a confidentiality notice and, often, a handheld computer.

  • They won't ask to come into your home -- and don't invite them to do so.

For more helpful information about the 2010 Census, visit the official Census site.

You can find details about Census security and scams on their Are You In a Survey?: Phishing, Email Scams & Bogus Census Web Sites page.

A small sample of people are legitimately asked more detailed questions as part of the Census. So, if you have any questions about whether a form or person is legitimate, you should contact your US Census Bureau Regional Office.

 

Scam Alert ! 

(posted June 09)

The Jury Duty Scam:-  The scammer calls claiming to work for the local court and claims you've failed to report for jury duty.  He tells you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest.  The victim will often claim they never received the jury duty notification, and rightly so.  The scammer then asks the victim for confidential information for " verification" purposes.  Specifically, the scammer asks for the victim's Social Security number, birth date, and sometimes even for credit card numbers and other private information- exactly what the scammer needs to commit identity theft.

So far, this jury duty scam has been reported in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington state.    In realty, court workers will never call you to ask for social security numbers and other private  information.  In fact, most courts follow up via regular mail and rarely , if ever call prospective jurors.

Reminder: never give out your social Security number, credit card numbers or other personal confidential information when you receive a telephone call.

Scam Alert!

(posted May 09)

Some families have received phone calls just days after a spouse or other family member has passed away.  The callers are bogus bill collectors delivering the startling news that their loved one owned a large debt and if it is not paid immediately, collection efforts would begin.  Protect yourself and your family estates:

1. know your obligations- unless a family member is a co-signer, they are not responsible for the deceased debts and under no obligation to repay

2. know the procedure - even if you are a co-signer, it is illegal for bill collectors to contact you.  They should go through the executor or probate court to collect the debt.  Provide only the contact information an never give out a social security number

3. know the facts- get as much information about the collection agency; such as how much is owned, for what reason, when the debt was acquired and why you are being contacted

4. do an identity check - check the collection agency authenticity by contacting the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org or access www.naag.org. for the attorney general office in your state

Scam Alert!

(posted April 09)

Most people are spending less, simply because they have less.  There are record numbers of people hitting the food pantries and we must all look out for our neighbors and friends.  Some less - than - scrupulous people are more than willing to separate you from your money and savings. 

Think of this statement: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is".  People are reporting that they are receiving a number of mailings from offers, charities, and alleged non-profits.  Make sure you are familiar with these causes, businesses, or organizations.  WE have some ability to check them out for you, but you can also call the Department of State about Charitable Organizations @1.800.732.0999 to obtain valuable information to help you make better, more informed decisions.

 

Scam Alert ! 

(posted April 09)

A bogus and deceptive website http:\\bailout.hud-gov.us was designed to look like an official government website for HUD customers.  This site collects personal information for ill- gotten gain.  The official HUD website for the American Recovery and Reinvestment ACT 2009 is

www.hud.gov/recovery

Scam Alert ! 

(posted March 09)

We are aware of two scams in our area.  One involves door-to-door visitors that claim to represent the Pike County Area Agency on Aging . . . . . . .they DO NOT. 

We do not conduct business in that manner.  Call the Pike County Area Agency on Aging office at 775-5550 to verify a visitor.  

The second is a telephone scam offering  a new  Medicare card or prescription drug plan.  These are bogus offers and Medicare authorizes NO such thing.  If you are contacted, call Medicare at

1-877-772-3379.

 

Filing a complaint: you may also call toll free at 1.800.732.0999  to file a complaint about a charitable organization that has solicited donations from you.  Also available is the Office of Attorney General     

 consumers@ attorneygeneral.gov

14 th Floor, Strawberry Square

Harrisburg, PA 17120

717.787.9707 or 1.800.441.2555

Fax: 717.787.1190