Tag Archives: Theft

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

ATM Safety: What You Need to Know

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) can give you easy, fast access to the money in your bank account. When you insert your card into the machine, it reads the information on the card’s magnetic strip. It then asks you for your pin number and, voila! You have the ability to withdraw money from your checking or savings account. According to statistics published in 2012 by Statistic Brain, there are 2.2 million ATM machines in service, with a new ATM machine being installed every 5 or so minutes. It’s important to note that most of these machines charge a fee for their service, but with modern-day thieves focusing on ATM technology in order to steal your cash, a fee might be the least of your worries.

What Security Measures Are In Place?

Many ATMs are monitored by surveillance cameras to prevent identity thieves from tampering with machines and also to discourage muggers from targeting people who are withdrawing cash. ATM customers are cautioned not to write their pin number down where passers-by can see it and to take precautions against allowing others to see the number that they punch into the keypad.

Unfortunately, there are ways that scammers target ATM machines that render these security measures useless.

ATM Skimming:

Incidents of ATM skimming are on the rise. Skimming occurs when identity thieves modify ATM machines. They insert a phony card reader over the legitimate card reader. This will read the magnetic strip. The information that it reads off of a debit card is either stored in the device or transmitted via wireless to another location. This is combined with either a spy cam or a device fitted over the keypad to read the users’ pin numbers. With these two bits of information, thieves will have easy access to a user’s checking account. They will either remove funds from the account, or sell the information online. The highest bidder will receive your sensitive information.

To prevent this from happening to you, it’s advised that you use only ATM machines located inside a bank, where it is less likely that scammers will have tampered with a machine unnoticed. Also, look out for keypads and card readers that look slightly off. They may be protruding oddly from the machine or a slightly different color than the rest of the ATM.

Sketchy ATM Purchases:

Did you know that used ATMs can be sold on eBay and Craigslist? If the machines are not properly wiped of data, the purchaser may be able to access users’ information electronically. Again, users are encouraged to stick to using only ATMs located at banks, rather than those at retail stores or in out-of-the-way spots, which may later be discarded or sold without being properly wiped of data.

Users should also monitor their checking account transactions closely. Some identity thieves may “test” a user account by making small transactions, sometimes for amounts less than a dollar. They assume that most users won’t notice small transactions like these.

Bank account holders can also be advised to withdraw money directly from a bank teller rather than an ATM to eliminate the risk of ATM-related identity theft and also to avoid ATM fees.



Debit card safety: Think before you swipe



The Real Deal: PayPal Phishing Scam

Do you ever check you “spam” mail box before deleting it?   I do, if nothing else it’s good for a laugh as I am promised long lasting sexual experiences and beautiful brides from Russia, not to mention the millions of dollars I’ll receive just for helping some poor soul out with a money laundering scheme where there really is no money to be laundered.   I also find some things that never should have made their way in there, so it’s nice to know there is a place where I can check in and judge for myself.

Yesterday I found a message which appeared to be from PayPal.  And, wow it was GOOD!  This was quite possibly the most well done phishing scam message I have ever gotten.   It includes the images from PayPal, the mailing address, the correct grammar and punctuation and even the correct domain name.  It warned me of an impending problem with my account and that I needed to log in to resolve it, while providing a helpful link to use.

I didn’t panic, but I did wonder.   First, why DID this go to my Spam mailbox?  Other PayPal notices came to this email address and I receive them.   Did the email service detect something that I didn’t?  Next, I realized that, I never receive official PayPal notices at this email account. It’s a secondary one set up for things like ebay purchases and sales.  While I may receive notice of a payment, I never receive official statements about my account. Those all go to my primary email address.

I thought, what’s one more day. If there is something wrong with the account, I can fix it tomorrow.  But in the meantime I’m going to report this to PayPal and tell them why.  I sent the message to spoof@paypal.com (I have the address saved in my address book but you can also get questions answered online).

Today here’s my response:

Hello xxxx xxxxx,

Thanks for forwarding that suspicious-looking email. You’re right – it
was a phishing attempt, and we’re working on stopping the fraud. By
reporting the problem, you’ve made a difference!

Identity thieves try to trick you into revealing your password or other
personal information through phishing emails and fake websites. To learn
more about online safety, click “Security Center” on any PayPal webpage.

Every email counts. When you forward suspicious-looking emails to
spoof@paypal.com, you help keep yourself and others safe from identity

Your account security is very important to us, so we appreciate your
extra effort.



This email is sent to you by the contracting entity to your User
Agreement, either PayPal Ince, PayPal Pte. Ltd or PayPal (Europe) S.à
r.l. & Cie, S.C.A. Société en Commandite par Actions, Registered Office:
5th Floor 22-24 Boulevard Royal L-2449, Luxembourg RCS Luxembourg B 118

So if it looks suspicious it probably is.  It doesn’t hurt to think about your emails before you click that link, open that image or pass it along.   I caught it this time.  Hopefully by being aware of what’s out there I will catch any attempts at a phishing scam again.

FBI releases “The State of Financial Crimes” report

The FBI has recently released its “State of Financial Crimes” report in which the FBI focuses on advising the public about the status of financial crimes investigations on corporate fraud, securities and commodities fraud, health care fraud, financial institution fraud, mortgage fraud, insurance fraud, mass marketing fraud, and money laundering.

You can download the report in full or view it online here.

Key sections of the report include the following: Continue reading FBI releases “The State of Financial Crimes” report

Over 100 counts in latest arrest of identity theft ring in Denver, Colorado

Colorado is home to the latest indicted identity theft ring.  A grand jury has indicted 16 people on 168 counts including forgery, money laundering and identity theft.
The indictment reveals that police first discovered the crime ring when 26 year old Laura Fritz, a defendant who will be issued a summons to appear in court, went to the Lakewood Police Department in January of 2011 and reported knowledge of two identity theft rings.
The statewide identity theft rings with defendants ranging in age from 19 to 47, victimized over 100 Colorado businesses and residents including victim Shirley Christmon from Westminster who says she found out when her bank called her and said, ‘We’ve got some charges on your account, and we want to know did you make those?’ and her response was “No, I didn’t make any of these.'”
The following defendants have been arrested and are being held on bonds from $10,000 to $60,000 to $100,000:
Matthew Mccluskey, 47
Brittany Cox, 21
Matthew Leman, 30
Jennifer Spade, 41
Lauren Ciparro, 19
Johnnie Main, 20
Carla Cominiello, 30
Michael Dicino, 28
Teresa Kidlow, 35
Michael Relic, 42
Several defendants still remain at large including:
Robert Turner, 46
Alyse Shank, 19
William Joseph Roberts, 45
Jennifer Putman, 28
Roy B. Frank, 36
According to the indictment, the group would steal people’s personal and financial information and then put the information on fake IDs and forged checks. They would then use the fake documents at businesses and banks through out Colorado.
According to an 85 page redacted public copy of charges from the District Court of Arapahoe County, Colorado some of the crimes included:  Continue reading Over 100 counts in latest arrest of identity theft ring in Denver, Colorado

Your sales or repair person may be selling you a scheme: 5 true almost crime stories

Have you ever noticed that once you start talking to someone about the last time someone tried to “pull the wool over your eyes” that they too have a story to share about an attempt to steal their credit card, break into their home or hack into their computer?

There’s no place like home to get hit up by a scam artist and these true crime stories were stopped in their tracks by quick thinking.

  • Ann received a telephone call from (insert alleged security company name here) asking her what sort of security system she has.  Ann replied I promptly told her  “Do you really think I’m stupid enough to answer such a question from a person that randomly calls me?”  She replied that “It is actually surprising at how many did answer that question.”  Ann said, “Well since you already have my address and telephone number why don’t you go ahead and mail me some information and I’ll look it over.”  She never received any.
  • Beth received a telephone call that said that they were with a computer repair service company and had been contracted to help people locate and clear viruses off of their computers.  Could he schedule a time to come in and help her?  She said, “I know how to run a scan myself, but you don’t seem to know how to run a scam.  I’ll call my own tech support office should I need help. I have the 1-800 number right here. “
  • “Hello, oh hello Sam.  I was just calling from (insert company name here) and we were conducting a $100 Walmart Gift Card giveaway and you are the winner!  I don’t remember entering any contest at Walmart.  Oh, you didn’t your name was chosen randomly when you use your credit card.  Now all I need you to do is give me your credit card number to pay for shipping and your $100 Walmart Gift card is on it’s way to you! Couldn’t you use $100?”  (Hey this one is pretty good aren’t they?)

Sam’s reply, “Oh there is no way I’m giving you my credit card number to charge $1.95.  If your company can’t afford the shipping on a prize then they shouldn’t even be awarding them.”  Not to mention the fact that Sam doesn’t even use his credit card – so there is no way it was a contest as Walmart – he uses cash only.

  • “Hello, I’m calling you from Comcast.  I was wondering if you would like to add the full HBO package to your system for only $2.01 a month?”  Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?  It’s only $2 you would spend more than that on renting or going to the movies.  Until, “If you just give me your credit card number I’ll get you set up.”  Oh yeah, you’ll be set up alright.  Cable companies don’t use your credit card to make service charges too.
  • A man pulls up outside Karen’s home and parks.  He gets out and starts walking and looking around the house.  She confronts him, “I’m sorry what are you doing?”  His response, “I’m the dryer repair man, I’m looking for your vent.  Can I come in and take a look at the problem?”  ‘There is no problem and I didn’t call for a repair.”  “What isn’t this 109 xxxx?”  he asks.  “Nope it’s not and there is no 109 house number on this street.”
Now, maybe just maybe he was a repairman, but it was  car, not a truck or a van and it was not labeled.  He wasn’t wearing a uniform, carrying any tools and didn’t even have some sort of logo on his shirt.  Be sure to check the facts.
One word of warning, you may not want to approach them directly, as you never know who you may encounter.  It’s best to note make and model of car and to call the police about a suspicious person on your property. In this case, Karen found out that the police got more than one phone call from people in her neighborhood, which confirms her suspicions that they were there to “case” the place.
Most of these attempts to steal from you, whether it’s your credit card information or stuff inside your house all start with one simple and almost easily offer of help or prizes.  Because the amounts mentioned are so low, many people would feel that they are legitimate since they tend to think of thinks like the Nigerian lotto scam with millions of dollars involved.  But don’t let the amounts fool you, because giving our information in these types of instances can add up to costing you more than you can afford.


Who can check out your credit card balance and history?

Just who can check out your credit card balance, recent purchases and payment history?  Only you, of course, unless someone is “spoofing” you.

What is spoofing?

Spoofing is a service for a fee that allows people to make phone calls that appear to be from someone/somewhere else. Is this legal?  Well that depends on your purpose.  There are some legit reasons to use a spoofing service.  Doctors who want to call patients from their cell phone but protect their private number, parents calling a child that is ignoring phone calls from them or victims of domestic abuse that need to protect their whereabouts all seem to have legit cause for using a spoofing service.

In 2010, President Obama signed the Truth in Caller ID Act prohibiting knowingly using spoofing services to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value. There is a fine is up to $10,000 for a single incident.

Many people have used spoofing services for pranks but there is an even scarier risk with spoofing.  Many banks automated call in systems are programmed to recognized your phone number as a step one in verifying your identity.

Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org says in a press release,

“The trouble with this system is that hackers, crooks, suspicious spouses, or nosy neighbors can access your credit card information using the same method the reporters from the British tabloid used to break into subjects’ voicemail accounts,” but “this is far more serious, however, since consumers’ financial information and privacy are at risk.”

Dworsky and New York Times reporter Ron Lieber tested the feasibility of accessing people’s bank information with just a small amount of information through an automated system at two banks, Bank of America and Chase.

The results?  They were able to access information every time at Chase and had success at Bank of America too, even though he was occasionally denied access.  Bank of America even shared the names of specific merchants where purchases were made.

What can you do to protect yourself?

-shred credit card receipts that have some of the information on them needed to access your account

-keep access to your credit card statements and or online statements secure

-always protect your social security number

-don’t offer up your birth date on social network sites

There wasn’t an apparent risk for accessing funds but there was substantial risk for accessing information.  Which begs the question, how would you feel if your ex-spouse, co-worker or neighbor was taping your personal financial information?

Lojack for Laptops Theft Protection

Lojack for Laptops Discounts
Use the discounts below to save money when you purchase Lojack for Laptops

25% Discount On Lojack Premium

15% discount for LoJack for laptops standard

There are some great ways to protect your laptop from theft. However, as with protection of anything physical, there is no 100% effective way to prevent theft. Ultimately, if the target is valuable enough, and the thief is clever enough, they will figure out a way to get whatever you are trying to protect.

This is the value of insurance.

However, in the case of your laptop, if you lose it to theft, the nightmare doesn’t end with the theft of the physical computer. It can get worse. A thief can take the information from your laptop to steal your identity, access your banking and other personal details, or cause you even bigger mental and/or emotional trauma..

It’s not a fun thing to talk about.

However, having had family members who have gone through theft of their computers, I know how difficult laptop theft can be. Of course the physical loss is sad and disappointing, but the real loss comes through the emotional trauma caused knowing that someone else has the ability to know everything about you; having all your photos, contacts, and information

Which is why LoJack for Laptops is a great protection when it comes to theft of your laptop.

LoJack for Laptops is made by Absolute Software. They run a technology behind the scenes called Computrace Agent. This is a small program running on your computer which keeps in touch with the monitoring center at Absolute.

If there is a theft and you report it to Absolute, Absolute attempts to reach your computer every 15 minutes. When it does, it works to maintain contact and get details about the computer including the physical location of the computer, and how the computer has been used since the theft.

Absolute then works with local law enforcement to get your computer back to you as quickly as possible.

One great protection that you have with LoJack for Laptops however, is the ability to actually lock down your computer, or remotely delete information that is stored on the computer.

You can even display en error message (one that you write) to the thief.

Here’s a sample message you could use.

“Hey! You took my computer. If you return it anonymously to [123 Anywhere Street], I won’t press charges. Otherwise, you should know that I know where you are because you’re using my computer right now. You have 2 hours to return my computer.”

Something like that ought to get the attention of the person who committed the theft.

Or if the theft was a quick grab and sell again, the person who bought your computer will likely be returning your computer because they don’t want to be mistaken for the thief.

One challenge of LoJack for Laptops is that it is not as effective in many countries overseas. However, if you plan on being in the United States with your laptop this can be a very effective way to protect your information after theft occurs.

Knowing people who have had laptops stolen, I can say with 100% certainty that they wish they had installed LoJack for Laptops before the theft occurred.

Absolute Software lets you lock down the computer and then works to track down your computer and get it back to you.

It’s great theft protection and great peace of mind.

And for a limited time (we don’t know how long) the links below will let you get a discount on LoJack for Laptops.

Lojack for Laptops Discounts
Use the discounts below to save money when you purchase Lojack for Laptops

25% Discount On Lojack Premium

15% discount for LoJack for laptops standard

PLEASE sign up for offsite backups of your computer – I’m Imploring You

This post is about Offsite backups through Mozy.
You can get Mozy’s Unlimited Backup Service for just $4.95/Month
If you don’t use Mozy for off-site backups, find a different solution.

Please so something to avoid what my friend has gone through this past week.

This week, my friend’s home was burglarized.

The thieves literally took everything of any value at all.

He thinks they got in through breaking or cracking his garage door.


This is no ordinary friend.

This friend is like superman when it comes to computers and fixing things.

He also doesn’t charge what he’s worth.  He’s always worked to be of service to others first, letting the value of his work shine through.

His home is nothing extravagant – a basic 3/2 split level house in a pretty basic, standard neighborhood.

But because of the work my friend does, he had a quiet collection of awesome computer stuff in an upstairs office.

But the thieves probably didn’t know any of that before they walked in the door.

This was just a lucky hit for the thieves. Continue reading PLEASE sign up for offsite backups of your computer – I’m Imploring You

How Buying Gold Online Could Protect You Against Identity Theft

Buying gold online protects you against Identity Theft?

That may seem like a stretch, but stick with me here for a minute because I’m going to show you how identity thieves are at least partially to blame for the global economic crisis, and how buying gold can help you hedge your bets against this crime.  Also, identity thieves in chat forums online are talking A LOT right now about how they are using stolen money, YOUR money, to buy gold through various gold sellers online. Buying gold (and silver) gives them the best methods for preserving their plunder and converting it into something tangible that will hold it’s value. Even criminals think buying gold (online or wherever they can get their hands on gold) is a good idea right now.

Buying Gold onlineIdentity Thieves Are at least partially responsible for the financial meltdown. And this does tie into protecting yourself through an online account which lets you buy real, physical gold.

  • Leverage your money by putting it into gold and silver.
  • Buy Gold Bullion.
  • Gold at all-time high, and buying online makes it easy!

So seems to be a common theme in advertising over the past few months as the price of gold has reached for the stars.

And anyone who thinks that identity theft and the financial meltdown are separate from one another clearly hasn’t taken the brief moment it takes to connect the dots.

So let me help connect the dots between identity theft, financial meltdown, and how buying gold is still a good idea and an excellent way to protect at least some of your assets (and yourself) against identity theft. Continue reading How Buying Gold Online Could Protect You Against Identity Theft