Posts Tagged ‘scams’

Scammer Lingo

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Scammer Lingo

Here on NJFA’s blog we have featured a few posts about scams, we’ve also done articles in Renaissance and posted scam warnings on Social Media. It seems there is always a new scam or the resurgence of an old scam to be on the lookout for.

But that got us thinking… do we really know what all the terms associated with scams mean? The tactics that scammers use come with their own little lingo. In order to be more prepared and aware- we thought, why not share some of the terms most commonly associated with scams? That way you know what we are talking about when you read about a new scam or a warning of a scam to look out for.

Here is a sampling of terms and their definitions.

Pharming: When hackers use malicious programs to route you to their own websites (often convincing look-alikes of well-known sites), even if you’ve correctly typed in the address of the site you want to visit.

Phishing: The act of trying to trick you (often by email) into providing your personal data or credit card numbers, usually a scammer will pose as a trusted business or other entity.

Ransomware: A malicious program that restricts or disables your computer, hijacks and encrypts files, and then demands a fee to restore your computer’s functionality.

Scareware: A program that displays on-screen warnings of nonexistent infections on your computer to trick you into installing malware or buying fake antivirus protection.

Skimming: The capture of information from the magnetic strip on credit and debit cards by using a “skimmer” devices. These skimmers are secretly installed on card-reading systems at gas pumps, ATMs and store checkout counters.

Spoofing: Scammers can use technology to pose as a specific person, business or agency, this technology allows them to manipulate a telephone’s caller ID to display a false name or number, so that it appears they are calling from a legitimate business or from a local number.

Spyware: A type of malware installed on your computer or cellphone to track your actions and collect information without your knowledge.

As a reminder, if you have been the victim of a scam, contact your local Police Department and/or the Federal Trade Commission  https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1  or the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs 1-800-242-5846 or www.njconsumeraffairs.gov  

 

The New Medicare Cards

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

The New Medicare Cards

By Charles Clarkson, Project Director, Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey

In 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. This law requires the removal of the social security numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019. This new initiative is referred to as the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI.) A new randomly generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the social security number. When the initiative gets underway all Medicare beneficiaries will be assigned a new MBI and be sent a new Medicare card.

The primary goal of the initiative is to decrease Medicare beneficiaries’ vulnerability to identity theft by removing the social security number from their Medicare cards and replacing it with a new Medicare MBI which does not contain any other personal information.

The new MBI will have the following characteristics:

i. The same number of characters as the current Medicare number, but will be visibly distinguishable from the Medicare number

ii. Contain uppercase alphabetic and numeric characters throughout the new MBI

iii. For providers, the new MBI will occupy the same field as the Medicare number on transactions

iv. Be unique to each beneficiary (e.g. husband and wife will have their own MBI)

v. Be easy to read and limit the possibility of letters being interpreted as numbers (e.g. alphabetic characters are upper case only and will exclude S, L, O, I, B, Z)

vi. Not contain any embedded intelligence or special characters

vii. Not contain inappropriate combinations of numbers or strings that may be offensive

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that oversees Medicare, has established a transition period during which the Medicare number or MBI will be accepted from providers, beneficiaries, plans, and others. CMS expects the transition period to run from April 2018 through December 31, 2019. After the transition period only the MBI will be used.

Starting around April 2018, CMS will start mailing new Medicare cards. There are approximately 60 million beneficiaries in Medicare. So, CMS will probably mail the cards in phases over a period of time. Remember, as a beneficiary you can still use your current Medicare number during the transition period if it takes awhile to receive your new Medicare card. If a beneficiary is new to Medicare after April 2018 and Medicare has started issuing the new cards, the beneficiary will receive the new MBI. Therefore, healthcare providers must be able accept the new MBIs by April 2018.

Fraud and the new Medicare cards.

The Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey (SMP) wants all Medicare beneficiaries to be aware of possible fraud and scams relating to the new Medicare cards. Remember, CMS and Medicare will never contact you by phone or email to ask for personal information relating to the issuance of the new Medicare cards. Any such contact is a scam. Don’t be taken in. Also, there will be no charge for the issuance of the new Medicare cards. Anyone seeking to have a beneficiary pay money for the new card is a scammer. Be especially careful of anyone seeking to have access to your checking account to pay any fee for the new card. Beneficiaries are especially vulnerable if they are isolated, frail or may have cognitive loss. Caregivers should be on the alert for these kinds of scams. The SMP is currently educating beneficiaries at its outreach events of the issuance of the new Medicare cards. CMS will also be conducting intensive education and outreach to beneficiaries to help them prepare for this change.

The issuance of the new Medicare card is a significant change. If a beneficiary or caregiver has any questions about the SSNRI, please don’t hesitate to call the SMP at 1-877-SMP-4359 (1-877-767-4359) or 732-777-1940. A beneficiary or caregiver can also email me at charlesc@jfsmiddlesex.org.

Phone Scams

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Here are NJFA, we like to make sure we are keeping folks aware of scams and fraud issues. Our February episode of Aging Insights, is titled, Stop Identity Theft and features two guests that will help viewers to protect themselves. We also want to address a scam that’s been in the news.

Recently, news outlets across the United States reported on a new scam referred to as the “can you hear me?” telephone scam. According to those reports, the scam begins with an unsolicited phone call. After the caller makes contact they ask the recipient “Can you hear me?” to elicit a response of “yes,” and a potential onslaught of unauthorized charges ensues.

The story goes that if you get this call and respond “yes” to the question, “can you hear me?” that the scammer could be recording it and could use it against you. There is the possibility that you could receive a bill for something you did not purchase or agree to and when you go to dispute the bill you will be presented with your own voice saying “yes” on the recording.

The first thing we want to warn readers about is if you don’t know the caller or are suspicious of their intent, you should always hang up. Do not give personal information or engage the caller in conversation if you have doubts about the legitimacy of the call. You should also contact the appropriate authority to report any issues or to verify any information you are given on the call. For example, if the caller claims to be from your utility company, call the # on your monthly statement to verify your account status or any issues.

After some additional research, we’d also like you to know what some investigators have discovered about this scam. According to the fact-finding website, Snopes, “we haven’t yet been able to identify any scenario under which a scammer could authorize charges in another person’s name simply by possessing a voice recording of that person saying “yes,” without also already possessing a good deal of personal and account information for that person, and without being able to reproduce any other form of verbal response from that person.” That doesn’t mean it cannot happen, just that the reports thus far only support the threat and not any actual monetary charges.

The Snopes article adds, “In all the news reports we found, interviewees merely reported having been asked the common question (“Can you hear me?”) but did not state that they themselves had fallen prey to scammers.”

That being said, we still advice you to use caution when receiving unsolicited phone calls, hanging up is ok. And if you have any scams or crimes to report, contact your local police, the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-438-4338), and/or your local Better Business Bureau.

 

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Robo-Call Scams

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Robo-Call Scams

Here at NJFA, both Grace and I (Melissa) have received calls on our cell phones claiming to be from “Cardholder Services”. The recorded voice does not specify the credit card company but urges you to contact them about your account.

We’ve also heard recently from others who have received similar calls, as well as calls from people posing as the IRS. The most recent call I received even came from a local phone number and not a 1-800 number. Apparently there is technology that allows the scammer to change how the # they are calling from appears on your caller ID, so it may look legitimate.

I checked the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website and found that the call I got is a well known scam. The voice on the recording identified herself as “Rachel from cardholder services”. The article on the BBB’s website was from 2014 and indicated that this scam had already been going on for years.

The concept of this scam is no different from the others, the caller wants you to either pay for a “service”, or provide personal information (like account numbers or Social Security Numbers). You should not do either. If the caller claims to be from your bank or credit card company, hang up, look up the correct contact information for your bank or credit card company and call that # to verify any account concerns.

It is also important to remember that the IRS, Social Security, and most government agencies are not going to call you. The IRS specifically will always send you a letter first about any money owed. The current IRS scam involves a caller identifying themselves as an IRS employee and demanding immediate payment via a wire transfer or pre-paid debit card. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

With any scam, the request for a pre-paid debit card should be a red flag. This is the scammers preferred way of getting your money. The IRS, and most likely any legitimate entity will not demand payment via a specific method, such as pre-paid debt cards or wire transfers.

You should report all incidents to your local authorities, in addition you may find these helpful as well:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) phishing@irs.gov or 1-800-366-4484.

Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org

Federal Trade Commission https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1

NJ Division of Consumer Affairs 1-800-242-5846 or www.njconsumeraffairs.gov

Aging Insights Episode 32, Financial Exploitation and SCAMS

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Aging Insights Episode 32, Financial Exploitation and SCAMS

NJFA is pleased to announce the release of the 32nd episode of Aging Insights TV program, Financial Exploitation and SCAMS, focusing on those that target seniors. This episode will be shown during May 2014. The show is broadcast on over 60 public access stations and may also be seen on NJFA’s website, http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/aging-insights.

The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) is a public charity with the primary goal to empower elders to live in the community with independence and dignity. The strategies to age well are voluminous. Consequently, the Foundation uses several messaging platforms to highlight resources to age well. For example, Aging Insights is a ½ hour TV program that is produced monthly by the Foundation, or Renaissance magazine which can also be found online at www.njfoundationforaging.org/renaissance-magazine.

For this episode Grace Egan is joined by Frank Goia, Esq., Director of Hudson Co. Protective Services and Steve Scaturro Director of Ocean Co. Division of Consumer Affairs. These guests share the current trends that they are seeing, provide prevention tips and offer information about reporting these crimes.

This show and the work of the NJ Foundation for Aging are possible by donors. To make a donation to NJFA, please visit our website, www.njfoundationforaging.org or call the office, 609-421-0206 for more information. Sponsorships spots are also available for future shows.

Viewers may also visit NJFA’s website to take the new online survey on Aging Insights to provide comments on the show and to suggest future topics the program should address. To learn more about the work of the Foundation visit www.njfoundationforaging.org or call 609-421-0206.

 

More Money Tips

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

More Money Tips

Fraud and Abuse

If you have not done so already, adding yourself to the Do Not Call Registry can limit the number of mail and phone calls you receive from marketers. Contact the Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov

For more information on stopping unwanted mail and phone calls visit the Federal Trade Commission online at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0260-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email

You’ve seen many ads and articles stating that a Reverse Mortgage can help you, and for some people it is a wise choice. NJFA’s Renaissance magazine has published articles outlining what you should know when considering a Reverse mortgage. You must be 62 or over to qualify and a counseling session is required.  A reverse mortgage is borrowing against the equity of your home. You must stay current with your property taxes while you live in the home and the money will have to be paid back when you or your heirs sell the home. More information can be found at www.fdic.gov/

Always be on the lookout for fraud. Here are some warning signs to be aware of:

  • An unsolicited phone call, email or other request that you pay a large amount of money before receiving goods and services.
  • An unexpected email or call requesting your bank account number, perhaps one asking you for the information printed at the bottom of your checks.
  • An offer that seems too good to be true, like an investment, “guaranteeing” a return that’s way above the competition.
  • Pressure to send funds quickly by wire transfer.

Protecting your important documents is important. Keeping them in a safe place should also include protecting them from water damage by keeping them in an airtight and waterproof container.

The NJ Division of Consumer Affairs provides valuable information and resources to protect you. Their website features information about cyber fraud, how to determine if an investment opportunity is real and also a way to check if a charity is legitimate and other consumer warnings. Visit them online at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov or call them at 1-800-242-5846.

 

SCAM Update and Warning about Robocalls

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

There was recently an article in the AARP Bulletin on that had to do with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) cracking down on new scams. This made us think we should do a blog update on scams and pass out some new warnings from the FTC.

What’s new? Well, it seems scammers are now impersonating medical alert companies in order to get money or personal information (to steal your identity) from seniors. The scams are coming in the form of phone calls, sometimes with a live person and sometimes an automated or robocall. The calls are either trying to sell you a system, often using very strong tactics to get you to give your credit card or other payment information or they are stating that you (or someone you know) have already ordered the system and demanding payment. They have even been known to threaten legal action if you don’t pay up.

What you should know. Robocalls are illegal. But you may be asking, what is a Robocall? Well, direct from the FTC, here is an explanation of a robocall:

If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall. You’ve probably gotten robocalls about candidates running for office, or charities asking for donations. These robocalls are allowed. But if the recording is a sales message and you haven’t given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal. In addition to the phone calls being illegal, their pitch most likely is a scam.

So, what should you do if you get a robocall? The FTC recommends that you, hang up the phone. They also say you shouldn’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.

What else can you do?

• Consider contacting your phone provider and asking them to block the number, ask about whether they charge for that service. Remember that telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change.

• Report your experience to the FTC online at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0341-file-complaint-ftc or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

Some other helpful tips:

If you get an unsolicited call, hang up. Don’t even ask for details from someone making a cold call.

If you are interested in a medical alert product, gather the information and ask for documentation of fees up front.

Beware of offers that state your insurance will cover medical alert programs or that you can get them for free. Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance companies will not pay for this service.

Don’t pay for anything that you didn’t order. Hang up and contact authorities to make a complaint if you are threatened.

And again, don’t press any numbers as prompted in the robocall, this could just notify them that this is a live, working phone number and you could become the target of future calls or scams.

For more information from the Federal Trade Commission visit: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0259-robocalls

The Social Security Administration Encourages You to be on the Look Out for Scams

Friday, November 30th, 2012

The Social Security Administration Encourages You to be on the Look Out for Scams

Disaster scams are still out there. The Social Security Administration (SSA) issued another warning last week. The scammers are making phone calls and sending emails, posing as FEMA or SSA employees. They ask  for your Social Security number  and bank information, stating that they need it to make sure you get your benefits. These are the same type of scammers that call or send emails claiming that you won a prize and asking you to provide information so they may send you the winnings or even asking you to pay a fee upfront.  Once the thieves have your personal information, they can use it to open credit accounts, buy homes, claim tax refunds, and commit other types of fraud. Most recently, some identity thieves have redirected Social Security beneficiaries’ monthly benefit payments, so the money goes to a different bank account, sometimes repeatedly.

To help prevent this type of fraud, the Inspector General recommends that you:

  • never provide your personal information when receiving unsolicited calls or contacts
  • never agree to accept pre-paid debit cards or credit cards in another person’s name
  • never agree to send or wire money to an unknown person
  • always contact your local SSA office if you receive a call from a person claiming to be from SSA, and that person asks you to provide your Social Security number or other information.

To verify the legitimacy of a caller who claims to be an SSA employee, call your local Social Security office, or Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213. Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.

If you find that someone has stolen or is using your personal information, you should report that to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or 1-877-ID-THEFT.  You can report suspicious activity involving Social Security programs and operations to the Social Security Fraud Hotline, or by phone at 1-800-269-0271. Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals can call OIG’s TTY number at 1-866-501-2101.