Think It’s A Money Scam? Verify Through the BBB’s Scambuster Sites

A new decade brings fresh hope, palpable promise of good will and prosperity, and, new scams. Unbelievably, the emails from wealthy – but currently unemployed foreign royalty –  imploring your help in transferring millions to the United States via your bank account – for which you shall be richly rewarded – are still rolling in and, people are still literally buying into this hoax. But, today’s scammers have evolved just as much (if not more) as personal information mining technology.

Novel top scams involve more targeted schemes wherein digital hustlers purchase insights into your shopping and charitable donation habits. Aside from the traditional procurement of personal information through data brokers, Google Ads and other such outlets, we are now seeing a surge in bogus businesses and charities whose only intent is to separate you from your money.

Certainly one can conduct a corporate search with state Secretary/Department of State, Business Entity lookups or research Charity Watch for registered nonprofits but these are governmental and non-investigatory entities with generalized time-of-filing data. Crowd-sourced Better Business Bureau’s scambuster sites provide the most reliable real-time corporate and charity verification and up-to-date reputation reviews. i.e.:

1. Warn others and stop fraudsters by reporting scams to BBB’s Scamtracker. Scamtracker is a crowd-sourced website where you can report if you’ve been contacted by a scammer. Since reports are plotted on a map, you can also use Scamtracker to find out what’s happening in your area. Click here for more information. Scamtracker reports also help BBB educate the public with more in-depth reports via our scam studies.

2. Check out businesses and charities first. A little research before you buy or donate to make sure you’re working with a reputable company or charity can save you a lot of time, money and heartache later. Check out companies here and a full report on charities here . BBB accredited businesses and charities have been evaluated by BBB, and meet and promise to maintain our Standards of Trust or Standards for Charity Accountability.

Trust but verify- especially when it comes to your finances.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Update On An Old Scam – eGreeting Cards.

Virtually every scam out there is one that has existed since the beginning of social use of the Internet; it’s simply been re-purposed in an updated digital format. In this Bulletin, we will focus on the greeting card scam – a perversion of the e-greeting card that you receive in your email inbox and seems to be coming from a friend.

If you open this email and click on the card, you will probably wind up with malicious software that will be downloaded and installed on your operating system.

The malware may be just an annoying program that will launch pop-ups with ads, resulting in unexpected windows all over the screen. However, it can also be ransomware or one of the worst financial malware that’s been around, part of the infamous Zeus family.

If your system becomes infected with such dangerous malware, you will become one of the bots which are part of a larger network of affected computers. In this unfortunate event, your computer will start sending private data and financial information to a fraudulent server controlled by IT criminals.

To keep yourself safe from identity theft and data breach, we recommend that you treat unexpected email greetings with caution and ensure that your computer is using a security program against this type of danger.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

SPECIAL EDITION: Charity Scams – Spotting Them & Guardian Go-To Info Sites

earthquake
(Given the breaking news, this is a compilation piece, thanks to news coverage and background information from CNN, FOX, AARP and Scambusters. )

After tragedy strikes – as it did this Sunday, August 24, 2014 in California — expect two immediate reactions: Well-intentioned people will want to give donations. And scammers will want to take them.

Within hours of any disaster, charity scams go into full swing. Even before  Superstorm Sandy made landfall, 1,000 new websites with “Sandy,” “relief” or related keyword search terms in them had been registered, many of them by scammers.

Some of the bogus websites seek your credit card number to collect supposed donations, possibly also using that information later for identity theft. Others infect your computer with malware that can ferret out sensitive information, such as your account numbers or passwords.

Fraudsters also do their work by blasting out thousands of spam emails, text messages and phone calls. They get their word out on Facebook and Twitter and even go door-to-door.

“Tragedies inspire people to give,” says H. Art Taylor of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. “After every natural disaster and manmade catastrophe, we see an outpouring of generosity … along with the inevitable scams and frauds. We urge donors to take the time to make sure their donations are going to legitimate charities.”   Here’s how:

1. Check it out

Before donating to a charity, take time to authenticate it. In addition to the Wise Giving Alliance, charity names and reputations can be vetted at Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, Scambusters and GuideStar. You can also contact the agency in your state that regulates charities. Be suspicious of charities not listed or with questionable track records.

2. Don’t let them in

Unless you previously donated to an organization and have already provided your contact information, it’s wise to assume that an unsolicited donation request by email or phone is a scam. Don’t click on links in emails, Facebook or Twitter; they can unleash computer malware.

3. Examine the Web address

When using an Internet search engine to find charities, treat the results pages with caution. Carefully read organizations’ Internet addresses before clicking on them. Scammers often create rogue websites with sly misspellings, tweaks or sound-alike names. Also know that legitimate nonprofit organizations typically end in .org, not .com.

We know your hearts are big.   Certainly, donate if you can and want to but be careful and be smart.

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.