Selling stuff online? Read those offers carefully before you are sold out

You are all done with the treadmill, bike, crib or toys and wonder “How can I sell this?”  Many people turn every day to Craigslist to help them sell their used (or even new) goods so it’s no surprise that someone would test out their skills there in a cross between a Paypal/Credit card hoax and the “I have money for you from a lottery/unknown inheritance/or just because I’m dying and I wanted to pick some random email address to give money too.

In today’s particular Craigslist scam a group of exercise equipment items were up for sale.   The seller receives a request for more information which is provided.   Next she receives the following message . . .

Thanks for the mail..Due to the nature of my work,phone calls making and visiting of website are restricted but i squeezed out time to check this advert and send you an email regarding it.I am offering you  additional $300.i will be paying you with my credit card via my PayPal account,If my offer is accepted send me your:

1.PaypalAccount Name:
2. Paypal email address:
3. Mobile Phone Number:
4. Address:
I can pay in right away.I am a sailor and do not have much time around the Internet.Make sure you get back to me so that we can arrange for pick up as i will like the item to be picked,so no shipping.I insisted on paypal because i dont have access to my bank account online as i dont have internet banking, but i can pay from my paypal account, as i have my bank a/c attached to it, i will need you to give me your paypal email address so i can make the payments as soon as possible and pls if you dont have paypal account yet, it is very easy to set up, go ( a link was built in on the word paypal that I removed before posting) and get it set up , after you have set it up.

She forwards it to me and my response is . . . “Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me I’m an educated woman!”  Okay so it doesn’t rhyme quite as well as it should but you get the idea.   This consumer took one look at this email and knew it was a fake offer, and asked someone else for a second opinion just to be sure.   Here’s just a few reasons why:

  • Who offers $300 more than your asking price?  If it looks too good to be true it probably is.
  • See all the writing errors?  Lower case letters when they should be upper,  missing articles like the and an, and poor grammar and spelling are also usually an indication of a fraudulant offer.
  • Don’t touch that link!  Don’t have a paypal account? That’s okay, I’ll help you by providing this handy dandy little link here.   So, not only are you setting up a fake paypal account and giving them all your information to do so, you are also taking a chance on picking up a virus, malware or keylogger program when you open the browser window.

Selling used goods online can be a great idea.  It gets rid of things you don’t want anymore, it’s good for the environment because it is not being dropped into the trash and it may even make you a little money.   But as you place your ads make sure that your goods are the only thing up for sale, and that your identity, personal and credit card information is not taken away by the highest bidder.


New E-Mail Scams and Warnings: Citadel Malware Want to Extort Money

The FBI warns of another new virus making its rounds on the Internet and it does more than just try to shut down your computer. It also attempts to get money and credit card information from those affected.  When the computer is rebooted or restarted, a screen comes up telling the user that they have violated federal laws and that they now owe a fine.  Once the fine is paid, the virus continues working in the background and can steal credit card or banking information.

The following are the details of this virus attack:

Citadel Malware
This new Citadel malware has been established strictly to extort money from users who do not know any better.  When the computer is restarted or rebooted, an official looking screen from the FBI informs the computer user that the computer’s IP address has been locked. It states that this is due to child pornography or other misuse of the internet.  The user then must send $100 to the FBI as a fine through a throwaway prepaid money card.  This is called “ransomware” and is not something that the federal government has put on the computer.

Ransomware is a virus that specifically asks those who are affected to pay money to unlock their computer.  Once the amount requested has been paid, the computer is unlocked and can be used again.  Neither the FBI nor any other government agency would lock a computer due to any Internet browsing activity.  If they think there is something going on that requires their attention, they will seize the computer from the home and take it to their lab for further investigation.  Never pay a ransom such as this, no matter how official it may look.

Eradicating the Virus
If your virus protection software is not up to date then you need to do so immediately before you get the virus.  In the event that it is already on the computer, it must be taken to a professional who can get rid of the virus.  The only other way to remove it is to download software but that is not practical when the computer is locked.  Never send any money to anyone who states that is the only way to unlock the computer.  You also should also contact your banking institutions and let them know you have the virus and then file a complaint here.

The FBI reminds us:

To report potential e-scams, please go the Internet Crime Complaint Center and file a report. Note: the FBI does not send mass e-mails to private citizens about cyber scams, so if you received an e-mail that claims to be from the FBI Director or other top official, it is most likely a scam.

If you receive unsolicited e-mail offers or spam, you can forward the messages to the Federal Trade Commission at

It is never fun getting a virus but most virus protection software can handle finding and removing the small ones.  This type of ransomware malware is relatively new and your virus protection needs to be up to date in order for it to be productive.  If you do get this virus, take your computer immediately to a professional who can safely and completely remove it and then file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.



Guest post by Lisa Mason.  Lisa Mason is a freelance writer and VP of Special Media for Social Media Sun.

Fighting Identity Fraud: Government Steps up Battle against Medicare Fraud

The effort in preventing identity fraud has many components, and recently the government went more high-tech and stepped their battle up a notch in preventing Medicare fraud. They recently opened a $3.6 million command center that is said to potentially be a turning point in winning the war against Medicare fraud which is estimated to cost more than $60 billion annually.

Medicare fraud is something everyone should be concerned about. It doesn’t just hurt the government, but ultimately hurts all of us through higher taxes. Medicare fraud basically entails an intentional falsification or deception of information that involves Medicare. Just a few examples include false medical insurance claims, using another person’s Medicare information to obtain care or medical equipment, or billing for services that were not actually received by the patient.

Preventing identity fraud involving Medicare

Avoid becoming a victim of this type of identity fraud through the following:

  • Never give anyone your Medicare number other than your physician or Medicare provider. Think of your Medicare number in the same way you would your PIN numbers attached to a personal bank account.
  • Secure your medical records. Your records reveal the pertinent information a potential scam artist can use to perpetrate a crime. Keep medical records in a locked cabinet, and if they are on your computer make sure they are password protected.
  • If anyone comes to your door, or calls, in attempt to sell medical supplies or medications, never accept the offer no matter how legitimate it may seem.
  • If any medical practitioner or supplier offers items or services that you know are not usually covered by Medicare but claim that they can bill the expenses elsewhere, do not accept as this is most likely Medicare fraud.
  • Review your Medicare summaries or explanation of benefits carefully. Compare your services to what has been billed, and if you notice any discrepancies call Medicare.

Medicare fraud can lead to identity theft and potentially endanger lives Continue reading Fighting Identity Fraud: Government Steps up Battle against Medicare Fraud

The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 is Defeated

On August 2nd the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 was defeated by the US Senate.  This bill would have allowed big companies to track what we do on the Internet and then give that information to the government.  The senate needed sixty votes in order for the bill to leave the debate stage and to go into the next step.

While this is great news for the cyber community, this does not mean that this is the end of this type of legislation.  President Obama is currently looking at other ways to implement some aspects of this bill including using an executive order.  The president is adamant about protecting the country from cyber threats.  He feels that our current system is outdated and inadequate for today’s big threats.

This may be bad news for the president but those ordinary citizens of the United States are happy that this bill was stymied.  The act made it clear that Continue reading The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 is Defeated

Identity Fraud and Health Insurance: How You can Protect Yourself

When most people think of identity fraud, they often think about their credit cards or bank accounts being used fraudulently, but often don’t relate it to health insurance. With medical care costs skyrocketing and health insurance at a premium these days, identity fraud related to health insurance is an increasing concern.

The Obama Administration recently began partnering with major insurers in order to battle against health care fraud and starting in June the federal government along with state investigators and health insurance companies will begin sharing data and best practices to prevent not only billions of dollars in questionable payments, but to also safeguard the insured consumers.

How medical identity theft can steal your money and your health

Health insurance identity theft occurs when someone impersonates an insured person at a hospital or doctor’s office using a stolen health insurance card, or sometimes just a social security number in order to get healthcare coverage for treatment. This is an increasingly growing crime and not only costs hospitals billions of dollars, it is also adversely affecting patients by costing the consumer upwards of $20,000 to resolve.

Fraudulent uses of policy numbers

Just some of the ways your medical insurance policy number can be fraudulently used include:

  • Having it sold on the black market
  • Used to buy addictive drugs
  • Used to file fraudulent claims. Some perpetrators team up with fake clinics which in turn file claims for treatments while keeping the health insurance payouts.

Protecting yourself from medical identity fraud

Protecting yourself from identity fraud, including medical identity fraud, is becoming increasing important. Medical identity theft can even place your health in jeopardy. Imagine what might happen if a hospital has a fake file on you with medical information on the theft instead of yours. This can lead to serious mistakes that can even be life threatening.

Keep an eye out for the following warning signs to avoid becoming a victim of medical identity fraud, according to the FTC:

  • Medical bills for services you never received
  • Debt collector calls in regard to medical debt you don’t know anything about
  • A credit report with medical collection notices that do not belong to you
  • Being denied insurance due to medical records showing a diagnosis or condition you don’t have

Protecting your information is crucial:

  • Shred all medical and other personal documents and keep insurance and medical files in a locked cabinet or drawer. Make sure any data kept on the computer is password-protected and never give out personal medical information over the phone.
  • Be sure to check your credit report annually to detect anything that does not belong to you as well ask asking your insurer for a list of claims paid under your health insurance policy at least once a year.


Lisa Mason is a freelance writer and VP of Special Media for Social Media Sun.


Investigator Alert: Microsoft email and telephone hoaxes resurface

It’s an “oldie” but apparently it is still a “goody” as the Microsoft technical support hoax resurfaces in an effort to trick Microsoft customers into releasing private, personal and credit card information.

There are several different methods used to gain your trust and your information.  But all of them are fakes and frauds.   Here are a few that Microsoft wants to make sure that their customers know about:

  1. Microsoft does not call customers to fix your computer.
  2. You have not won a Microsoft lottery.
  3. Credit card information is not required to verify your Microsoft account.
  4. Unsolicited email messages containing so called security updates do not come from Microsoft.
Official notifications regarding your security can be found on the Microsoft website.  But that’s not all.  There are currently 14 different updates planned to occur this week, several which are labeled “critical.”  These updates are designed to patch “holes” in the security of popular programs like Windows, Office, and Internet Explorer.  Internet Explorer will soon be updated every month instead of every other month. Security professionals seem to like this idea, “It looks like IE will be the story every month now,” said Storms, who noted there seems to be no shortage of IE vulnerabilities. “I don’t think they’re proving a point, that they’re patching just because they said they can every month, but because they have to.”
IT professionals will be happy to hear of patches to Exchange and SQL Server, “Those are two of the three things that are most important to IT in enterprises,” said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security. “Thank goodness SharePoint’s not included. But Microsoft is hitting two out of three in just one month.”
If all else fails when it comes to fighting hackers, Microsoft may take the “if you can’t beat them hire them” attitude that they have had in the past.  After all if they are good enough to get into the system, then they are good enough to protect it.
Have you encountered any of these types of scams here is where Microsoft would  like for you to report it.


Identity Theft Is Accelerating With The Help Of Information Sharing

With the convenience of paying by credit card via the Internet, identity theft has become a major concern in the digital world.

[You already know this, because we cover that point a LOT on this site.]

There are now more methods used now than ever for storing, collecting, sharing, and sometimes stealing your personal details. You share your personal information to be evaluated for any loan, credit card, life insurance policy, mortgage or apartment. Your personal information is often shared just to apply for a job.

Keeping an Eye on Your Personal Details

It’s more important than ever to be vigilant about the process of your information being shared, and be discriminating in terms of who or what organizations you share your personal information with.

If you aren’t careful, and sadly, sometimes even if you are careful, you could become a victim of identity theft. In addition to being more vigilant, more and more people are turning to identity theft protection services like LifeLock to help provide added piece of mind. Many services will monitor your credit around the clock, offering identity theft protection 24/7.

Fraud at the IRS

A recent story reported that there was an identity thief within the hallowed ranks of the IRS. Domeen Flowers, a 48 year old (former) employee of the IRS, allegedly stole a number of tax payer’s identities directly from IRS databases and then used them to fraudulently apply for lines of credit for herself.

Flowers was hired as a mail clerk in 2007 in a Philadelphia IRS branch, but allegedly stole the taxpayer identities after she transferred to an IRS branch in Maitland, FL. She also allegedly fraudulently acquired the identity of her landlord in Philadelphia by faxing the landlord a letter on IRS letterhead, demanding personal details. She then used the information gathered to apply for credit cards for herself. Flowers will face up to 46 years in prison and up to $1.25 million in fines if convicted.

Warning Signs That You May be a Victim of Identity Theft

If IRS agents can’t even be trusted, how can you protect yourself? Start by watching for red flags. Here are five of the warning signs you might be a victim of identity theft:

– Unknown charges start to appear on your debit or credit card statements

– You suddenly receive credit card declines when you know you have plenty of available balance

– Merchandise you didn’t order is delivered to your address

– You stop receiving monthly billing statements in the mail

– You start receiving calls from debt collectors when you have no known debts

Besides watching for these signs of identity theft, you’ll want to pay attention to all the signs of fraud. This will provide tremendous piece of mind as you navigate through the pitfalls of this digital world we live in.

With the growth of the Internet and the acceleration of technology, there is definitely much to enjoy and appreciate about this fast-paced world we live in.

However, a measure of caution goes a long way in balancing the hazards of technology with all of its gifts.

Is Your Credit Card Data Safe?

Is your credit card data safe? Most people would like to think so but there is reason for concern. Technology has helped to create the contactless card that allows users to make payments from your Smartphones, without having to remove the card from your wallet.

However, technology has also made it possible to steal your data from these cards using a hacker app. Forbes reported on the demonstration that Researcher Eddie Lee stunned the crowd with at the Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas, when he introduced the Hacker Demos Android App.
What Is the Hacker App and How Does It Work?
The Hacker Demos Android App is an Android software tool called the “NFCProxy”. This app has the ability to read and then play back the data it collects from a contactless credit card. Since the hacker is using a cell phone to retrieve this information, victims are none the wiser. In essence, it’s an RFID reader because it reads the embedded RFID chips in these cards without having to touch it or you.

With cell phones being so common and seen everywhere by all types of people, you wouldn’t be suspicious of someone messing around with one. On the same note, cashiers accepting the payments would have little reason to suspect the person paying with their phone of doing anything wrong.

After all, more people are using services like Google Wallet and cashiers never see or touch these cards. Therefore, they’re not required to ask for ID. But don’t get discourage, it takes someone with skills and patients to use the Hacker Demos Android App and there are ways that you can protect your credit card data from hackers.

How to Your Protect Your Credit Card Data
The first step in protecting your contactless credit card data is to know that there is a threat and that they can be hacked if someone is resourceful and determined enough. The second step is to understand how the Hacker Demos Android App works, so you can protect your information. The key is to block the signal and prevent the hacker from reading the RFID chip in your card. Continue reading Is Your Credit Card Data Safe?

Preventing Identity Fraud without Getting Ripped Off in the Process

Most of us realize the importance of preventing identity fraud. If your identity is stolen, despite the fact there are consumer protections in place, many victims due suffer some financial loss and it can take years of frustration to clean up credit that is damaged in the process.

There have unfortunately been a large number of consumers who have been ripped off by companies who appear to be legitimate or seem to be looking after their best interests. They might receive an email that looks like it’s coming from a trusted source such as a bank or utility company tricking consumers into giving out their personal information. Everyone should become familiar with the most important steps in preventing identity fraud.

Important steps in preventing identity fraud

Just a few of the crucial steps all consumers should take in preventing identity fraud include:

  • Never divulging your personal or financial information to anyone who requests it via email. If you believe it is coming from a trusted source, call the company and do not respond directly to the email.
  • Protect your social security number, credit card and debit numbers, your PIN numbers, passwords and all other personal information.
  • Be sure and create strong passwords, and change them frequently. The best passwords contain capital and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Protect all of your incoming and outgoing mail, and shred any of your financial trash.
  • Always keep a close eye on your bank account statements, credit card bills and your credit record to spot fraudulent activity quickly.

Credit Card Protection

While it’s crucial to be prudent about protecting your identification and financial information, unfortunately there are also companies who will take advantage of consumers who are worried about having their identity stolen, and potentially thousands of dollars in the process.

While one would think that a company offering credit card protection would be concerned about a consumer’s privacy and financial well-being, there are more than a few who are scam artists out to take advantage of those who are wary.

Recently, Capital One Financial Corporation was forced to pay $210 million to settle allegations that they used call-center contractors who pressured consumers into buying credit protection products, and both the Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission has advised that some credit protection offers are not worth the money.

Consumers who prepare themselves by doing their due diligence before accepting such offers can avoid being ripped off. Arm yourself with knowledge and know your rights as a consumer, and you can greatly lessen your chances of identity fraud as well as being ripped off by unnecessary services.

Guest post by Lisa Mason

Lisa Mason is a freelance writer and VP of Special Media for Social Media Sun.