Friday, May 30, 2014

Protect Yourself from Scams

by Art Koff, Founder of RetiredBrains

If your identity has been stolen or you are a victim of credit-card fraud, notify all credit-card companies and tell them to issue you a new card.

Place a credit-card freeze on your account with the three main credit agencies. This won't affect your credit or cause problems with other credit cards you hold, your mortgage, car loans, etc. It only affects the ability of others to apply for credit in your name.

Note: You must also remember to place a credit freeze on the accounts of deceased persons. If you fail to freeze their credit, a thief can possibly steal their identity and apply for credit in that person's name. The credit agency agencies and their contact numbers are:
  • Equifax — 800-525-6285
  • Experian — 888-397-3742
  • Trans Union — 800-680-7289
You should also contact your local law enforcement agency. Complaints can be filed as well by calling 877-IDTHEFT or logging on to the Federal Trade Commission website .

Visit RetiredBrains for more in-depth coverage
on subjects like, Theft & Scams, Fraud and Scams, Common Scams, How Identity Theft Occurs, If You Are a Victim, Background Checks, Check Your Credit, Identity Theft Reports. Credit Counseling Scams Craigslist Scams and how to fill out an identity theft report .

Internet security flaws and data breeches
                                                                                  A great deal of information has been published about the loss of personal information due to data breaches at retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus.

Identity Theft Resource Center Breach database is a compilation of data breaches confirmed by various media sources and/or notification lists from state governmental agencies and is updated on a daily basis. This site is updated regularly for new data breeches.

Scam of the Week
The previously mentioned Identity Theft Resource Center website also provides a weekly update on the
most current scams being reported, including:
  1. Auto Scams
  1. Online Auction Scams
  1. Travel Scams
  1. Employment Scams
  1. Social Network Scams
  1. Financial Scams
  1. Face to Face Scams
  1. Telephone Scams
  1. Real Estate Scams
Electronic pickpocketing                                                                                                             
s a term most don't currently recognize but everyone should be made aware of. Many credit cards, all passports, entry access cards/badges for business locations and even hotel rooms and some mass transit payment cards have embedded RFID chips.

These cards/badges can be "cloned" with a simple, easy to carry and conceal, card reader. A thief can brush by you with this reader and easily copy the information these chips contains and use it to duplicate the credit card or access all the information on your passport including your Social Security information. You wouldn't even know that you have been electronically pickpocketed. Even when you get your credit card bill and see bogus charges you wouldn't be able to tell if your credit card was compromised when you paid for goods or services or someone cloned your RFID chip.

Credit cards, passports and access cards can be protected with inexpensive sleeves that block card readers from accessing the information on embedded RFID chips. You can also wrap your cards in tin foil to serve the same purpose. Visit RetiredBrains for more information and
preventative measures .

Disaster relief scam.
You receive a request for donation via email or phone to donate to a major disaster relief fund: hurricane, tornado, flood, etc. Sometimes the name of the charity or organization sounds like a legitimate organization, but the website they link you to is bogus and any money donated ends up in the pockets of the scammer. Always contact the recognized charitable organization directly by phone or go to their website and donate or volunteer this way. has a search feature. The
Exempt Organizations Select Check tool allows people to find legitimate, qualified charities to which donations may be tax-deductible.

One-ring phone call scam.
Your phone rings and a number shows that you don't recognize. Your phone rings only once and so you're curious.

The scam works as follows: Scammers auto-dial cellphones across the country at random. The calls are from area codes that include: 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876. These area codes look like U.S. numbers but they are coming from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands or Grenada.

When you call back, a message says you have reached an operator — please hold. In some cases, the calls go to adult entertainment or other expensive services which charge by the minute. These charges then appear on your phone bill and since you actually made the call it is difficult to get them removed.

Protect yourself
Make a photo copy of both sides of everything in your wallet including credit cards and identification cards (driver's license, insurance cards, etc.). If traveling overseas make a copy of your passport and keep in a separate safe place.

What you should not carry in your purse or wallet:
  1. No identification that includes your Social Security number, any PINs or passwords
  1. No blank checks
  1. No spare keys for your house or car
  1. Medicare card (carry a photocopy with the last 4 digits cut out)
  1. Don’t sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put “PHOTO ID REQUIRED.”
Additional links:
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority provides a Scam Meter on their website. The free tool asks a series of questions to help you determine if an investment you are thinking about might be a scam.

Federal Trade Commission regularly updates a list of Scam Alerts . You can browse FTC scam alerts by topic or by most recent.

Although we have attempted to ascertain the legitimacy of all the firms whose URLs appear in this article we make no guarantee of such and urge readers to check with their accountants and attorneys before relying on the information provided or engaging services.

This article written by Art Koff, founder with the assistance of John Jupin, a former FBI special agent and retired U.S. Department of Labor - Office of Inspector General special agent.

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