Posts tagged with "scams"

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.

Computer Scams illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Craigslist Safety Tips

Safety Tips for Avoiding the Most Common Craigslist Scams

When you ask people if they’ve heard of Craigslist, the answer is invariable “yes.” Not surprising, as the selling portal is active in more than 70 countries. But what people don’t realize is that craigslist takes in over $1 Billion in revenue each year, but there are only 50 employees in the company! That’s due to the fact that the buyers and sellers on craigslist do all of the work.

But what most people don’t know is people use craigslist to scam others out of merchandise, data and money. Never has “buyer beware” been more important to follow than it has on craigslist. So what are some of the things that you need to watch out for? Let’s look at some of the most common scams.

Big Ticket – Big Scam

If you’re looking to purchase a big-ticket item, like a car or even a house, and the seller doesn’t ask for a credit check before engaging in a transaction, stop! The seller is just trying to get your financial information and will take your money and disappear. Buyer beware on this because without question, this is a scam.

Something to remember: the Internet and social media have the unique identity to mask the identity of the person you’re dealing with, so even though they give you a name or email address, you have to verify that it’s true. Start with Nuwber, an easy-to-use online tool that will verify the true identity of the person you’re communicating with, simply by entering his or her phone number or other pertinent info. Once you’ve received their true identity, if the person whom you’re dealing with is not who they say they are, end all communication immediately. The person is a cybercrook and scam artist and they’re only out to rob you anyway they can. 

Here’s another tip: if someone would prefer to call you rather than text or email you, watch out. They want your phone number in order to gain access to additional data and information, so never give out your number. Always use Google Voice to make or receive phone calls, because it lets you use a phone number that is totally different from your own. And always use craigslist’s proxy email to avoid revealing your own.

Avoid Wire Transfers

A sure giveaway to a scam is when the seller asks you to use a wire transfer to pay for merchandise. This provides an opportunity for the cybercrook to steal your financial data or your money without ever sending any merchandise! Avoid wire transfers. If you do want to use PayPal, use the website to get a link – never use one that’s provided to you by the seller. They’ll simply send you to a spoof site where they can access all the account information you enter.  

By following these simple tips to protect yourself, you should be able to buy and sell using craigslist without any problems.

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Focusing on People & Data to Distract Hackers

We live in times when it’s become easier than ever for hackers to breach an organization through social engineering. Breaches are primarily caused by phishing attacks, representing a huge security problem for businesses.

But why is this type of cybercriminal so widely represented in the statistics? What is it that makes it so easy and so profitable for hackers? We might not like the answers. The ever-increasing connectivity and focus on people and data is leaving us vulnerable to malicious attacks. To protect your business, you need to start thinking like a hacker. Let’s take a look at how they infiltrate big business and what can be done about it.

How Social Engineering Works

Since social engineering relies on personal information hackers can find online, it’s pretty difficult to counter. Before; that required some digging on the hacker’s part – now all it takes is a data-matching service like Spokeo and PeekYou, and they get all the information they might need and more. Cross-matching public records is one thing, but employees also freely share a lot of information on social media. This personal info is then used to target employees within a company with malicious emails, by posing as a trusted individual. From there, all a hacker needs to do is convince an employee to click on a malicious link or perform a wire transfer.

Are Individual Threats the Same as Company Threats?

As we can see, cybercriminals can efficiently use your social media information to reach their desired target within your company. Does that mean company executives should stop using social media altogether, or ban their employees from sharing any work-related information?

The short answer is yes. The long answer, if not “yes,” is that there should be strict policies in place about the use of social networks and what can and can’t be shared. For example, if a company executive posts about being on a business trip, hackers take that as a signal to try and perform BEC. Anything an employee posts about work projects or people they spend time with inthe office can help cybercriminals construct an elaborate and believable social engineering scam. It is why every employee must assume the whole world is watching them when they want to post anything work-related on social media.

The frequency of Social Engineering and Phishing

It’s no accident that social engineering and phishing attacks are responsible for 95 percent of data breaches. They exploit what will always be the weak link in any company’s security chain – the people who work there. Relying on traditional protective measures such as firewall, antivirus, anti-spoofing techniques, etc. cannot stop all of these attacks. Education is vital for prevention, but with these scams getting more elaborate and difficult to spot, it doesn’t ensure safety.

What Can Protect Your Business?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you didn’t have to worry about phishing? Good news, the worrying stops today. It seems challenging to prevent phish, but Area 1 Security offers an Anti-Phishing Service that finds and eliminates phish through a combination of web crawling and small pattern analytics. With Area 1 Horizon, your business will be safe, and you won’t be adding to the pool of $5.3 billion in losses due to phishing attacks last year.

With the ever-increasing focus on people and data, businesses are leaving themselves wide open to hackers. In those circumstances, there are two options – limiting the information hackers can get about you through social media, or investing in preemptive and comprehensive phishing protection. At Area 1 Security, we stop phishing for good.

New Medicare Cards

Next week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be automatically mailing new Medicare cards to more than 3.5 million people with Medicare in New York State.

People with Medicare in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont will also be receiving their new card. People with Medicare in these states and New York, should receive their new card by the end of August and can begin using it right away.

Key features of the new card and rollout process:

  • Social Security Numbers have been replaced with new unique identifying numbers.
  • Social Security numbers are no longer on the new Medicare, helping protect people with Medicare from identity theft and CMS fight fraud.
  • The new Medicare card is free. Avoid scammers by knowing that CMS will not call people with Medicare asking for any personal information, your Social Security Number, bank information, or to pay for the new Medicare card.
  • People with Medicare can sign up for email notifications on when the new cards will be mailed to their area by going towww.medicare.gov/newcard.
  • There are no changes to Medicare benefits. Once you receive your New Medicare card, you should destroy your old Medicare card by shredding or cutting it up with scissors.

You can also access new Medicare card fact sheets, graphics, b-roll, images and other resources here.