Monday, January 10, 2011

Scams of the Week: Jan 10, 2011

While globalization has given us access to a nearly endless amount of valuable information from other nations and cultures, it has made predatory practices a little simpler.  Email is free and can be mass distributed.  Good for businesses; good for con artists. Advertising to people halfway across the world no longer requires expensive shipping costs, just a click of the mouse.  With Facebook, email, Voiceover IP, disposable cell phones, wire transfers and countless other wonderful technologies, con artists have an incredible amount of access to us from anywhere in the world.  This week's scams will focus on scams from all over the world, but have an effect on us.

PowerBalance Wristbands - I was astounded when I read that these people believed "tuning into" the body's natural energy through wristbands, that use holograms could produce better balance.  It's nothing more than miracle treatment. It's fake.  Apparently, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission agreed.  They forced Powerbalance refund customers and to issue an apology for advertising their statements as truth. If you want an extraordinarily overpriced plastic wristband, endorsed by celebrity athletes that have no idea what it does, this is your company.

Business Fee Scam - Businesses often have more money on hand than consumers.  It may be meant to purchase expensive supplies or be dedicated to a much needed technology upgrade for the company, but it's there and that's all scammers care about. In Florida, the Sheriff issued a warning to local residents about a caller who claims to be a deputy from the Okalooska Sheriff's office is phishing for credit card information.  The caller claims that the business hasn't paid their "license fee."  This is included on this list because it's not the only time we've heard of it.  Last year, similar calls came to local businesses from scammers claiming to be the FCC or IRS, who said the businesses hadn't paid correct taxes.  Some local businesses received calls from scammers claiming to be the Better Business Bureau and they didn't pay their accreditation dues. They called Accredited and non-Accredited businesses alike.  Careful of any similar calls or emails that require credit card or banking information. Check with us before giving any financial information via email or phone.

Credit Card Security Scam - I'm glad the Canadians found out about this one, because it will surely hit the United States soon enough.  It's sophisticated enough to be convincing and complex enough to be confusing--two key ingredients in an effective scam.  The con artists call consumers and tell them they are investigating unusual purchases on your credit card.  They have already acquired the consumer's address and credit card number, but need the They make up a bogus purchase and when the consumer states no such purchase was made, they try to get the card security number off the back of his or her card.  The three digit security number is essential to making online purchases. In actuality, if card companies are suspicious, they will ask you security questions, but the security number doesn't help if your card is stolen.  They will ask you questions that don't require you to have the card in front of you.

1 comment:

  1. Hey fellow Minnesota residents - please be aware of this credit card scam, and make sure your information is safe!