is the fastest growing crime in our nation today. Besides dumpster
diving, mail theft and lost/stolen wallets, criminals are stealing
information by overhearing conversations made on cell phones, from
faxes and emails, by hacking into computers, from telephone and
email scams, and even from careless online shopping and banking.
In fact, more than 20% of all cases involve telecommunications and
the Internet. (FTC) It is of prime importance
to understand how thieves steal your information via the telephone
and computer systems.
Below are some current known scams:
Special VISA/Mastercard Scam Alert-
Confirmed:Should you get a phone call from a VISA or Mastercard
employee trying to confirm unusual spending activity and that person
asks for code on the back of your credit card--- DO NOT give that
number out. They will sound very professional but may not be from
that company. They may even tell you how the scam works- for instance
telling you that charges are always under $500. Then they will ask
you for the code on the back of your credit card. DO NOT give that
number to the caller. They often say that the charge is for an Anti-Marketing
Device. Contact VISA or Mastercard Fraud numbers on your credit
card to confirm that they made that call and deal with the situation
Account verification or "phisher" scams: For several years, individuals
have purchased domain names that are similar to those of legitimate
companies. It may be in a form such as: abccompany-accounts.net.
The real company is abccompany but it does not have a "-accounts"
in its domain. These con artists then send out millions of emails
asking consumers to verify account information and even SSN. Prior
to agreeing to do this, check with the company directly and see
if the email originally was sent from them. In almost all cases,
you will be told that it is a scam. The latest: verification scams
are: E-Bay, Best Buys, Discover Card, e-gold.com, ebay-verification.net
and change-ebay.com. Almost all Internet server names have been
used for this scam as well. Companies that have been known to be
victims of this scam include: AOL, MSN, Earthlink,PayPay, Discover
Card, Bank of America, Providian and perhaps Wells Fargo.
Sign-in Rosters: There are some companies and governmental agencies
(colleges, EDD, state-sponsored programs) that ask you to put your
name and SSN on a sign-in roster. Please be aware that identity
thieves may sign up toward the end of a page (purposely) so that
they can copy and collect personal identifying information. If you
encounter a sign-in roster like this, the best way to handle the
situation is to write the following instead of your SSN - "will
provide in person." You might also question a company/school representative
about this practice and see if you can get it discontinued. It is
dangerous and should be stopped. Some state laws will be addressing
this in the next year or so. If this is a classroom situation and
you do not need the credits, you may choose to leave the space for
SSN either blank or filled in with 000-00-0000. Please do not make
up a number. It might belong to another innocent person and hurt
his or her credit.
Help move money from my country, aka "Nigerian 419 Scam".
Everyone has received an email from a representative of a foreign
government asking you to help move money from one account to another.
This scan still nets $100 million annually so people are falling
for it. Nigerian Money Offers now account for about 12 percent of
the scam offers people have said they've received, according to
a recent National Consumers League poll. However complaints about
these offers increased 900 percent from 2000 to 2001. The latest
versions of this scam include a dying woman, a soldier and emails
other than from Nigeria.
Canadian/Netherlands Lottery- "You Have Won"- Unless you entered
a lottery or bought a ticket to win a prize, these are scams. They
originate from the Netherlands and other foreign countries. This
scam can cost you more than $20,000. Many include: From: "Promotions
Manager" : CONGRATULATIONS! WERKEN BIJ DE LOTTO, 41132, NL-1007
DB AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS. NEW- Via US Mail there is a new scam
about a "Spanish Lottery." Do not respond, turn it over to your
local postal inspector.
"Free Credit Report" Emails- Almost all of the "free credit report"
emails you receive are scams. Either the person is trying to find
out your social security number or will be billing you for a service
later on. Do your homework and check out the company via the Better
Business Bureau, US Attorney and Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
You don't know who is sending these emails. To get a real copy of
your credit report visit Allie Mae's myFICO
"You have won a free gift" -You may receive either a phone call
or email about a free gift or prize. You just need to send your
credit card info to take care of shipping and handling. Free means
free, there should be no charge. Also, you must consider if this
is a group sending out a cheap gift in exchange for finding a "live"
phone number or email address. Responding may result in hundreds
of spans or telemarketing calls.
Email chain letters/pyramid schemes- There
are many of these. One says that Bill Gates is testing a new email-tracking
program and wants your help. If you forward the email to your friends,
Microsoft will pay you money for each person that receives it. Others
say that you will get a gift or money from each person who comes
after you. Another tells you: Follow the simple instructions below
and your financial dreams will come true. Order all 5 reports shown
on the list below. For each report, send $5 CASH, This one even
says that the FTC says this is legal. These are pyramid scams. They
are for the most part illegal and are just variations on the old
postal chain letters. Do not respond or forward these emails.
"Find out everything on anyone" - This email is trying to solicit
money in order to buy a CD or program that you can use to find out
personal information on another person. These are always public
records and may be someone who just wants your credit account number
to use themselves.
Questionnaires: This is the time of year when you may get an email
holiday card from an "old friend." It may come from a chat room
friend. These include questions that help the person sending it
find out your birth date, passwords (favorite things) and even blatantly
may ask for your SSN. Do not answer these, even with false information.
You only let the other party know that they have reached a "live"
person and you may eventually give away information you don't realize
can hurt you. These people are slick and can easily convince you
to divulge information you don't intent do. That is why they are
called con artists.
Do not place your Social Security number or date of birth on resumes
that you send out for jobs. We have heard about several instances
where a person placed a "help wanted ad" either on the Internet
or in a newspaper and collected SSNs that way.
Job advertisement scams: Recently there have been scams involving
Internet Job Web sites (for instance Monster.com) and Newspaper Want
Ads. Under no circumstances should an applicant provide a SSN to
a "HR person" found through a newspaper ad or an Internet ad prior
to an actual interview or prior to authenticating both the company
and the person asking for the information. If you have any doubts,
contact the company directly using a phone number found on the company
Web site or telephone book. Remember, anyone can set up a Web site
You may choose to check the company out with the Better Business
Bureau for that area as well as the state attorney general to make
sure that they are a legitimate company. Typical tip-offs: Email
addresses that do not include a company name in the domain section,
mailing addresses or fax addresses in cities that differ from corporate
In-Store security scams: Two have been brought to our attention.
Individuals identifying themselves as in-store security may request
a customer's help in catching a bad employee. They ask for personal
information or ask you to pre-fill out a credit application and
then give it to the employee. The second form involves a caster
who is watching a customer fill out a form or pay for a bill with
a credit card. Just prior to the employee calling it in for approval,
they call that clerk and ask the information stating that the card/application
is from a thief. Make sure that any store employee who approaches
you has proper identification and that if a call interrupts an employee
during a transaction, that you check it out with store security.
Telephone scams: Often times consumers will
get calls from "charities" asking for donations. Do not provide
credit card information over the telephone. We also anticipate scamsters
will take advantage of the new "do not call" lists being compiled
by state governments. No one from the state will be calling consumers
asking if they want to be included on the "do not call list" nor
will these lists require a consumer to provide a SSN via telephone.
If you have questions or concerns about any of
the above situations, contact Allie Mae for advice.