Posts tagged with "Scam"

Container House by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

5 Useful Tips When Hiring a Garage Door Repair Company

When it comes to something as important as your home, you don’t want to get into the risk of hiring the wrong garage door repair company. The outcome can be costly and can pose a danger to your family too. Unfortunately, several garage door repair companies are not qualified to properly handle the job. With that in mind, it is therefore essential for you to know what to look for when hiring a garage door repair company.

Regardless of the kind of company you are dealing in, there will always be individuals or companies that will want to take advantage of the uninformed customer. This poses more risk when it comes to a more technical field, such as garage door repairs. Below are the tips to help you distinguish between a trusted and a manipulative company:

Tips for Choosing a Garage Repair Company

·       Look for Critical Information

·       Get different Bids

·       Seek Recommendation from Your Trusted people

·       Check the BBB ranging

·       Be Aware of Red Flags

1. Look for Critical Information

When considering having a garage door repair company, you always need to do enough research. You need to seek out and verify critical information. Some of the information you need to seek out about the hurricane garage doors include its physical address, online presence, and the company’s online reputation.

Any reputable company has got physical address listed down on their online platform. You need to verify its location provided is correct. Any great company should have an online presence. It doesn’t matter the website’s quality, but a company without a website should be of worry. Another thing is online reputation. Consider checking the online reviews of the given garage door repair company. It can be useful if you combine all of this information; it should provide you with a good idea of whether or not the company is good.

2. Get Different Bids

Any time you require a professional to do any work for you, getting many bids is significant. Having all this should provide you with a clue of the industry’s market value for any given task. It will also help you know whether or not you are signing up for a good deal. Ensure you compare the rate of various companies having similar features on their rates of payment. If they offer a warranty or they have 24hours service. Also, check if they use the sub-contracts or the technicians who the company employs. All this information is essential when comparing different offers. Don’t always go for services that are priced very cheap. This is because it may signify its low quality and shoddy work.

3. Seek Recommendations

The best way to get a reputable garage door repair company is by seeking recommendations from friends, family, and neighbors. There is a high chance that you are aware of someone who has had the kind of work done in the past. A referral or a positive warning can help you in your search for a reputable garage door repair company. The advantage of seeking recommendations from people you know is that there is no skin in the game. You will receive upfront and honest feedback.  This is because they don’t want to damage their relationship with you by giving lousy directions. They also have no benefit from sending you to the company. Due to all this, there is no reason for them to provide you with erroneous information.

4. Check the BBB Ratings

The best way to find a reputable garage door repair company is by checking the rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Before you consider a company, you need to go to the BBB website and search for their name. You will be able to see through reviews and complaints about the company. Always go for a company that has been highly rated and accredited for a long time.

5. Be Aware of Red Flags

To avoid falling into the trap of an untrustworthy company, always take notice of the red flags, for instance, when a company excessively does advertising and multiple company names. Any garage door repair company needs to advertise, but doing excessively may be a cause for concern. There should be consistency in name in the area of advertising, website, and phone calls.

Finding the right company to do your garage door repair will be very easy when you master the above tips. You need to properly verify if hurricane garage doors properly qualify for the task. This is to help avoid the risk of incurring additional costs due to repletion or shoddy work.

LongdistanceRelationship by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

Catfishing During COVID

new study expects there to be an unprecedented rise in online romance scams this Valentine’s Day, with scammers praying on lonely and isolated people during the pandemic.

Americans lost $201 million to romance scams in 2019, more than any other type of scam. Virginia had the eighth most victims in the nation.  

When the FTC releases the final totals for 2020, they are likely to increase in correlation with surging dating app usage due to more Americans turning online for human connection.

Bumble saw an 84% increase in video calls and Match Group, which owns 60% of the market including Tinder, saw subscriptions increase by 15%.

SocialCatfish.com released a study, Catfishing: A Growing Epidemic During COVID-19, using the most recent data from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. It also includes an exclusive seven-minute video interview with a Nigerian scammer, and a 20-page leaked playbook.

The study warns of 5 tactics scammers are using:    

1.     Cannot Meet Because of COVID: The hallmark of a catfish scammer is to come up with excuses of why they cannot meet, such as pretending to be in the military overseas. The pandemic gives them a built-in excuse not to meet.  Be careful.

2.     Will Not Video Chat: The oldest excuse in the book… they cannot video chat with you because their video camera is supposedly “broken”, or they do not have the best access to Wi-Fi. These are red flags.

3.     They Ask You for Money: Once they form an emotional connection with lonely victims, they ask for money. During COVID-19, scammers have begun saying they are sick and need help with treatment, or are low on food, water, and other supplies.

4.     Poor Grammar: If the person claims to be American but has terrible grammar, they may be a scammer.

5.     Confesses Love Quickly: If you are stuck in your house with limited contact with your loved ones, then someone else’s sweet words can win you over. Scammers know that the sooner they win your trust, the sooner they can drain your bank account. Beware of someone who is moving too fast.

5 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Victim:  

1.     Never Give Money: Do not give anyone you meet online money, no matter the reason.

2.     Meet or Video Chat: Do not form a relationship with someone who will not video chat with you or meet you in person. 

3.     Do Not Give Personal Information:  Scammers can use basic information to commit identity fraud, get access to your banks and steal your money.

4.     Conduct Thorough Background Checks: Do not take someone’s word for it.  Use reverse look-up sites to verify information, images, email addresses, phone numbers and online profiles.

5.     Take Things Slow: If you like someone online, do not let them rush you. Nigerian romance scammers will be pushy about falling in love right away. If that is the case, know something is not right.  

Veterans illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Postal Inspection Service Lists Scams Targeting Veterans

As Veterans Day approaches this Wednesday, Operation Protect Veterans is alerting more than 17 million U.S. veterans to scams that are specifically targeting them. OPV is a joint crime prevention program created by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and AARP.

Some of these scams are listed as: 

  • Secret Veterans Benefits Scam: Veterans are told they qualify for “secret” government programs or benefits that offer thousands of dollars. But first, they attempt to collect personal information or a fee.
  • Pension Poaching Scam: Scammers often offer veterans lump sum payments up front, in exchange for signing over all their future monthly benefit checks.  
  • Bogus Employment Scam: Scammers post fake job descriptions to collect personal information from a veteran’s job application, or they charge an employment fee.
  • VA Loan Scams: Offers to refinance VA loans at extremely low rates. 
  • Update Your File Scam: An imposter, claiming to be from a government agency, attempts to get a veteran’s personal information to “update their file,” so they can maintain their benefits.
  • Aid and Attendance Scam: Veterans (or their family members) receive an offer to move their assets into a living trust so that they can qualify for financial assisted Iiving benefits.

According to research conducted by AARP, veterans are twice as likely as the general public to be victims of scams. What can veterans – and those who care about them – do to prevent being taken advantage of by scammers? 

The Postal Inspection Service advises every veteran do the following:

  • Visit the Postal Inspection Service’s website (www.uspis.gov) to learn about scams targeting veterans and what they can do to prevent becoming a victim.
  • Check out any offer with a trusted family member, friend or your local veteran’s affairs office before acting. 
  • Don’t be pressured into acting immediately. If you are dealing with a legitimate outfit, they won’t try to pressure you to act before having a chance to check it out and think about it. If they do, just say “no” and hang up.
  • Get an answering machine and caller ID display. Then, let the machine answer the phone for you. If you don’t recognize the person leaving a message, don’t pick up the phone! 
  • Contact your telephone service provider, and ask them what kind of services they offer to help you block unwanted calls.
  • Report if you believe you have been the victim of a scam. Contact your local police or AARP (protectveterans@aarp.org or 877-908-3360).
  • Get credible information on how to qualify for veterans’ benefits by contacting your state veterans’ affairs agency. Visit www.nasdva.us, and click on “Links.”

“Veterans have access to special benefits and share a special bond that scammers know and use to take advantage of them,” said Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale. “The Postal Inspection Service works hard every day to stop scams targeting veterans, but we need everyone to become better informed, so they can help spread the knowledge to the veterans they know and love. 

“I encourage all Americans to make this Veteran’s Day not only a day of remembrance and thanks for our veterans,” Barksdale continued, “but also to make it the start of learning about, and helping to spread information on scams targeting veterans.”

For more information on scams targeting veterans and other scams, visit www.uspis.gov. To learn more about the U.S. Inspection Postal Service, visit www.uspis.gov. You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Advice for Boat Buyers & Sellers

Boat Buyers and Sellers: Don’t Get Scammed

Here’s how to spot the email warning signs

The boating season is drawing to a close, but the cold weather buying season will heat up soon. On snowy nights, potential boat buyers will hunch over computers and cellphones looking at boats for sale, dreaming of sugarplums and their first boat, while current owners with two-footitis seek a larger boat and look to sell. Nearly all boat buying and selling scams involve emails and they often contain clues to alert you. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers these common email warning signs to help prevent you from being scammed.

Warning signs for boat buyers:

  1. The boat is priced well under value. Despite lots of pictures and a good description (likely swiped from a real ad), the boat doesn’t exist. If a boat you’re seriously interested in is an out-of-state vessel, send a local accredited marine surveyor or someone you trust to verify there really is a boat and that the seller has the actual title and registration. Bottom line: If it seems too good to be true, it likely is.
  2. Cobbled-together email addresses. Scammers constantly change their email addresses to avoid detection, and they may have to get ones with fairly normal-looking names but lots of numbers.
  3. No phone contact. Scammers will go to great lengths not to talk to you and give reasons ranging from being out of the country to being in the military.
  4. Demands to use a specific business (escrow or shipper) and won’t accept an alternate. If you chose to use an escrow service to settle the transaction, suggest your own after visiting the BBB site and verifying it’s a legitimate one.
  5. The buyer wishes to pay a different amount from the selling price. If any mention is made of paying you anything more than the agreed price (and then typically asking for you to refund the overage or send the money to a third party), walk away.
  6. Showing no concern over title/documents. If there’s no interest in discussing titling the vessel or in verifying the registration information or hull-identification number, the person has no real interest in the transaction.

Warning signs for boat sellers:

  1. No reference to what is being sold. Scammers create a generic email to send to thousands of people, so they tend to use general language that could apply to anything such as “item,” “merchandise,” or “what you are selling.”
  2. Poor grammar, spelling, punctuation, and language use. Internet scams usually originate from outside the country. A couple of errors shouldn’t worry you because no one is perfect, but a dozen is a red flag.
  3. Changing names and locations in emails. It can be difficult to keep all the details straight when scammers are working multiple scams. If the person doesn’t remember who or where he is supposed to be, or exactly what he’s selling, you’re being scammed.
  4. No interest in seeing the boat or haggling over the price. Whether buying or selling, scammers are amazingly unconcerned about the price of the boat. Who wouldn’t negotiate? And if buying, they’ll often say they accept the boat “as-is,” won’t mention a survey or inspection, and won’t hold you responsible for its condition. Anyone willing to buy a boat sight unseen after a few emails should be regarded with suspicion — and if they’re also not concerned about price, it’s a good bet you’re being scammed.

For more information on buying or selling a boat, visit BoatUS.com/Buying-And-Selling-Advice.

About Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS):

Celebrating more than 50 years, BoatUS is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters with more than 700,000 members. We are the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill and fight for their rights. We are The Boat Owners Auto Club and help ensure a roadside trailer breakdown doesn’t end a boating or fishing trip before it begins. When boats break down on the water, TowBoatUS brings them safely back to the launch ramp or dock, 24/7. BoatUS offers GEICO Marine Insurance policies that give boat owners affordable, specialized coverage and superior service they need. We help keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Visit BoatUS.com.

Computer Scams illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

No Pandemic Shutdown for Scammers

COVID-19 may have shut down portions of the economy and put restrictions on Americans’ daily lives, but cyber scams and other efforts to defraud people continue to thrive.
“Scammers are tapping into the uncertainty related to the global pandemic,” says Chris Orestis, the president of LifeCare Xchange who is known as the “Retirement Genius.”
“They are using social engineering to target people with tactics that take advantage of today’s technology. Seniors need to be especially mindful of the mechanisms that have been explicitly designed to target people in retirement.”
Some scams to be on the lookout for include:
  • Dishonest retailers. Many dishonest retailers and fake products are popping up, Orestis says. “The shortage of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, soap, and masks at the beginning of the quarantine resulted from people’s panic,” he says. “The fear of scarcity created a gateway for scammers. Fraudulent online retailers are showcasing these items as bait, especially medical supplies.” But they don’t have any inventory, so stick with reputable stores, Orestis says. Scammers also try to sell products to prevent or cure COVID-19, even though they do not exist. “Anyone who receives a message from someone selling any of these items should not respond,” Orestis says.
  • Phony advertisements. Scammers also try to advertise hard-to-find products through social media, email or ads that pop up on certain sites. Avoid clicking on anything unfamiliar because cyber criminals may be trying to steal your personal information or infect your computer with a virus, Orestis says. “Be cautious of people who try to contact you under odd usernames and do not have a profile picture,” he says. “If anyone asks for your personal information or invites you to click on a link, block them immediately or report them as spam.”
  • Government or organization disguises. Is a government official or someone from the CDC or from the World Health Organization trying to contact you? Maybe, but probably not. Scammers often try to convince potential victims that they are with a legitimate agency or group, Oresitis says. “For example, an email might claim that there have been new COVID-19 cases in your area and ask for your personal information to see if you have been in contact with anyone infected,” he says. “Be suspicious of any COVID-19 related emails and use only official government websites to get information about the virus.”
  • Fake charities and crowdfunding. Criminals have also created counterfeit charities and crowdfunding sites. They ask for money in the form of cash, gift cards, and wire transfers. “Real charities will never use these resources,” Orestis says. “Be sure to use reputable sites and research the charities you want to donate to for coronavirus relief.”
  • Phone scams. Phones are still the No. 1 way scammers target seniors, both through calls and text messages. The Federal Communications Commission warns about these methods being used by people who claim to be the IRS or have coronavirus treatments, at-home testing kits, and vaccinations. “If you receive a robotic voice call, do not press any buttons or return any calls,” Orestis says. “Hang up immediately. If you receive text messages regarding this information, do not respond or click on any links.”
“It’s important to be wary of these and other scams, both off and online,” Orestis says. “The more conscious people are of how scammers are trying to trick them, the less likely they are to fall for one of those tricks.”