Credit Card Fraud Getting Smarter With Security Code Calls

credit card scamsGenerally speaking, credit card fraud is a pretty straightforward crime. Information is stolen and the card is used fraudulently. These days, however, scam artists are getting smarter. Now, they need only get part of your information. The rest they are getting right out of our own mouths. A recent credit card scheme in Boulder, Colorado is actually using the victims themselves to get the final piece of the puzzle.

Criminals are obtaining partial credit card information and then calling the victims posing as members of the Security and Fraud Department of your credit card. After giving you the information they have for your card, they then ask you about a suspicious purchase that never happened. When you say you did not make that purchase, they then promise you a credit to your account to make up for the fraud.

They confirm your address and then they claim they are starting a fraud investigation. They advise you to call the 1-800 number if you have questions and give you a fake control number. Finally, they have you “verify” that you have the card and ask for your security code on the back of the card. For the exact wording the criminals use, you can go here.

Most victims that have followed up with the real credit card companies quickly realize that they were had. Almost immediately, fraudulent purchases will show up and the gig is up. What folks don’t realize is that real security would never need information off your card. They were the ones that produced the card and gave it to you. They would have no reason to ask you for it.

What this particular scheme tells me is that people need to realize that phone calls from companies are not to be trusted. The bottom line is this. If you get an unsolicited phone call from a bank, credit card company or solicitor of any kind, hang up and call the company directly. Nothing good can come from a phone call that is instigated by someone other than you for business.

Of course, the scary part of this scam is how they got the information off your card in the first place. Perhaps they used a slider, skimmer or simply saw it when you were paying for something. The ways in which information can get stolen these days is amazing, so keep your information close to the vest. Doing so will ensure that you don’t have to worry about this in the future. This is only the newest thing that is happening but they will continue to evolve and change. Keep on top of things and protect your information like gold.

Is Cell Phone Insurance A Rip-Off?

If you’ve just bought an expensive smart phone, you may be considering getting it insured.

Cell phone insurance plans starting at a small amount like $6.99/month might seem like a good idea, but is shelling out for insurance worth it, or is it simply a rip-off?

Financial sources indicate that there are a few circumstances in which cell phone insurance pays off. For example, if you lose your smart phone only a few months after having purchased it, your insurer can help you replace your phone for less than it would cost if you weren’t insured. For this reason, cell phone insurance might be a good idea for someone who has a track record of breaking or losing phones.

Hang on to your old phone in case you lose your break your smart phone
Image provided by flickr creative commons user ellenm1.

However, in most instances it seems that cell phone insurance hurts the consumer’s wallet more than it helps.

Fine Print:

For starters, insurance plans often come with a good deal (sometimes pages and pages) of fine print, which should be read through carefully.

Sometimes this fine print might contain an agreement on the insurer’s part to replace your phone, but with what might turn out to be a used phone or a different model to be determined at the insurer’s discretion. This caveat might apply when trying to replace a new, in-demand phone, or an older model that is no longer manufactured.

Some experts say that these contracts are usually loosely written to give insurance companies ample leeway in dealing with individual cases.

Deductible:

Depending on the insurance plan, the consumer might be responsible for a deductible as high as $199. For that amount, you might be able to find a replacement phone on eBay or a refurbished phone.

Alternatives to Insurance Plans:

Instead of spending money on a cell phone insurance plan, experts suggest:

  • Simply setting aside the money that you would be spending on a plan in an emergency cell phone fund
  • Investing the money that you would be spending on a plan
  • Asking your insurance company about adding a plan onto your existing homeowner’s insurance
  • Use an older or cheaper phone until your contract expires

When buying a new smart phone, be wary of “peace of mind” insurance offers. Read contracts carefully and consider realistic alternatives.

Sources:

http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2013/06/24/the-pros-cons-of-cell-phone-insurance/

http://www.sfgate.com/technology/dotcommentary/article/I-take-it-back-Don-t-insure-cell-phone-3886114.php#page-2

Octomom Nadya Suleman Facing Probe Into Possible Welfare Fraud

It appears that the story of Octomom Nadya Suleman has not yet run out of steam thanks to some apparent bad choices by the former porn star. Nadya Suleman is now in potential hot water with the Los Angeles County Department of Welfare Fraud Prevention and Investigation. According to several sources including The Huffington Post, Radar Online and TMZ, Suleman is being accused of welfare fraud and finds herself in even more hot water than she has seen in the past.

The report says that Octomom got food stamps and welfare benefits of $60,000 dollars even though her income was reportedly over $200,000. That amount is way more than the cap of $119,000 that is mentioned in the report. Surely she is deserving of the help if she qualifies for it properly, but otherwise she is taking food and help from the mouths of others that truly do need it.

This accusation is only the latest dramatic episode over the past several years with Octomom. From her time as a porn star to her rehab stint in 2012, Suleman has had her share of problems in the public eye. Unfortunately, it is not the type of spotlight that most people want to be in.

According to the TMZ report, Suleman is being investigated and bank records are being seized Continue reading Octomom Nadya Suleman Facing Probe Into Possible Welfare Fraud

EFF Claims That We Are Suffering Warrantless Surveillance

The EFF, Electronic Frontier Foundation, has reported that there are revelations of a huge domestic surveillance program happening in the United States today. Reports in the Guardian and the Washington Post have been named as sources.

The Guardian reported that the NSA, National Security Agency, is gathering all of the call records of every single Verizon client in the United States. The report claims that Verizon is required to continually provide records for any calls made locally or abroad.

The Washington Post reported alongside the Guardian about how the NSA is already tapping into a number of different Internet companies. With access to those central servers, they can track a person’s movements as well as their contacts without much trouble at all. This includes video, audio, photos, documents, emails and various other Internet tasks.

The EFF claims that they have so much information now that they can literally piece together a time line of what has happened thus far. The time line basically alleges:

  • President Bush’s administration allegedly tapped phone lines without warrants after 9/11.
  • In 2006, EFF alleges that AT&T worker Mark Klein produced documents that proved they sent copies of all emails and Internet information to the NSA.
  • In 2006, several newspapers reported that congress admitted a huge database of call records from several of the big companies were being kept.
  • In 2009 the New York Times reported significant domestic communications collection was still going on according to the EFF.

Certainly in the wake of the 9/11 attacks the government had to implement some rules to allow them to hunt down the attackers. The problem is that the rules that were put in place at that time are now allegedly being used to do things that were never intended. Our basic rights as citizens are unalienable and should not be stepped on. Warrantless domestic surveillance has the potential to be abused at all levels of government. If it trickled down to our police officers, what types of problems would arise? Certainly our justice system could fall apart at the seams without a warrant system.

Not to mention, if hackers can get into these systems (and they have) how safe can all that information be?  It opens up a whole new world of identity theft, one we can little afford to encounter.

Now that this other information is coming to light, the EFF is convinced that we are about to face some major unauthorized information collection efforts. These efforts are fighting for transparency and to protect our basic individual rights. If you feel that you can help, you should contact the website and speak your voice loud and clear.

 

Mail Tracking Revelation Shows Why Transparency Is Vital

With the latest revelations coming to light about the letters that were tainted with ricin being sent to President Obama and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the need for transparency is becoming more clear every single day. It has now been revealed that a computer takes high resolution images of every letter and package front and back and keeps them on file. This is only the latest in a series of domestic surveillance admissions here on American soil.

The mailings were intercepted at various points in the mailing process. The horrible potential of these letters were stopped and it was largely due to the MICT machines that provided them the information. These machines literally keep records of what you have mailed down to the letter. Fortunately this surveillance did what they intended and saved some folks in the process. That said, this latest information shows that we need to have a long talk with our government about transparency.

After 9/11, we found out that we would have to give up some personal freedoms in the interest of national security and protection. Most Americans embraced what was needed and we banded together to get the job done. Some rules were put in place that was designed to prevent terrorism and domestic crime in and out of our country. Somewhere along the way we have lost sight of the programs and stopped the dialogue.

Related content:  Is Your Status Drawing Homeland Securities Attention?  Keywords Revealed

The United States government and the NSA needs to come out and provide the American public with a comprehensive list of the ways in which we are being watched. We need to know when our phone lines are being tapped. We need to know when our mail is being monitored and we need to know when our Internet access is being followed and documented. Any domestic surveillance that is going on that would normally require a warrant should be revealed voluntarily and quickly.

This transparency is the only way that we will have the ability to have an open and honest discussion about what is truly necessary. How else can we have that discussion? We don’t have the facts. That much is clear based on the revelations in recent years of surveillance we were unaware of. The American people have a right to choose when something is excessive. Give them the tools to do just that and we will remain protected.

Game of Piracy

Game of Thrones, the HBO series based off of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels, is reportedly the most pirated show on television. Downloaders have been setting bittorrent swarm records this season downloading GOT.

So what makes GOT so irresistible to otherwise law-abiding citizens? There are a few different reasons that people pirate television shows:

pirate
Image provided by Flickr creative commons user Criss!

1.) The way that HBO service is set up, users are required, in many cases, to subscribe to HBO on top of their existing cable package. If a user is only interested in one particular show, the cost of an HBO subscription may seem silly, and the user is driven to download the show illegally and for free.

2.) Because of delayed distribution to international markets, many people in other parts of the world resort to pirating the show rather than having to wait long stretches of time, up to six months in some countries, to watch the show after it has aired in the U.S. Finnish actor and director Timo Vuorensola, who directed Disney’s “Iron Sky” publicly declared that the HBO service that he receives in Finland is sub-par, with long delays before the Finnish audience can view the latest episodes. Vuorensola went as far as to say that he may start downloading the show from notorious download site thepiratebay.

3.) This show is so ridiculously good that non-subscribers just do not want to wait for it to come out on DVD in order to purchase the show legally. With several different dynamic story lines evolving at once, and the author’s penchant for killing off main characters willy-nilly, this show has viewers absolutely hooked.

But is pirating really that bad for business? David Petrarca, director of GOT, mentioned that he believed in the benefit of the “cultural buzz” generated by pirated episodes. Martin called the immense levels of piracy a sort of strange compliment, although perhaps not the best sort of compliment.

Even if pirating the show is not as damaging to HBO as it may seem, potential pirates should be aware – especially Comcast users. Earlier this year, Comcast implemented the “six strikes” of copyright infringement on users who download illegally. These users will receive an email alert when Comcast catches them illegally streaming a show – and according to some reports they seem to be paying particular attention to users downloading GOT episodes. Repeat offenders could be cut off from cable or internet access. Comcast has been criticized for not properly using official channels to notify users of this new initiative.

Sources:

Comcast’s “Six Strikes” Email With Infringement Details Surfaces

I’ll Download Game of Thrones from The Pirate Bay, Iron Sky Director Tells HBO

http://winteriscoming.net/2013/03/game-of-thrones-and-piracy-pbs-and-grrm-weigh-in-hbo-responds/

Game of Thrones Director Says Piracy Is Ok While The Copyright Alert System Is Warning Consumers Against It

Photo-Sharing Programs are Latest Portals for Scam Artists

According to the latest FBI reports, cyber criminals have been using photo-sharing programs more often to reach into our pockets without permission. Of course the process is not quite so straightforward, but the end result is always the same. One of the most common methods involves utilizing vehicle advertisements to lure in trusting potential buyers. It is a new twist on an old plot to be sure, but it seemingly is still effective with a number of people.

To get the information they need, they use Continue reading Photo-Sharing Programs are Latest Portals for Scam Artists

Oklahoma Disaster Officials Are Now Fighting Off Fraud

It might seem hard to believe, but even areas that are suffering are not immune to fraudsters and scam artists. In fact, these areas seem to draw them in like crazy. In Oklahoma, where the tornadoes and disasters touched down with regularity over the past few months, the scam artists are already trying to take advantage of insurance and government programs. The tornado outbreak started around May 19 and the anti-fraud units in Oklahoma have been on high alert. In fact, officials from North Carolina have come in to aid in the fight as well.

The fraud is multifaceted and includes fraud of the victims, fraud of the system and insurance fraud to name a few.  Tornado victims are being counseled to teach them what to look out for, but it seems inevitable that there will be victims that were victims to start with. How someone can victimize people that have been through so much is hard to understand.

The other part of policing the situation includes Continue reading Oklahoma Disaster Officials Are Now Fighting Off Fraud

Gas Pumps Are The Latest Credit Card Skimmer Scam

gas pump credit card skimmersWhen it comes to pumping your gas and getting down the road, most of us are usually in a hurry. We want to get in and get out, quick to swipe our card and pump the gas. Lately, identity theft scams are getting kind of impressive. Now, criminals are installing credit card skimmers on gas pumps and ATM machines across the country. These skimmers read the magnetic strip and provide the criminal with all the information they need to go on a spending spree.

So, how do you avoid this latest scam to take your money?

There are no fool-proof ways to avoid the scams completely but there are some ways to minimize your risks. One important first step is to look at the gas pumps and ATMs closely before sharing your card. Most of the places where a skimmer have been installed to steal your information will look changed in some way. This might be an out of place sticker, an extra layer of plastic or even a fake slide. If something looks awry, move on to another gas station and contact the police.

Another way to spot these credit card skimmers is to move the slide with your hands. If they are added after the fact, they will likely fall off or move. When they are made by the manufacturer, they are going to be solid and not move in the least. Criminals will often put in a cover or piece that will move and wiggle when you try to move it.

One of the best ways to avoid such problems Continue reading Gas Pumps Are The Latest Credit Card Skimmer Scam