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Watch your financial back: Protect yourself from these 5 common scams

Posted: 10:23 a.m. Tuesday, March 07, 2017



Fraud, identity theft focus of National Consumer Protection Week.

It’s National Consumer Protection Week, and the Federal Trade Commission along with more than 100 federal, state and local agencies, consumer groups and advocacy organizations are focused on informing Americans of their consumer rights and how to protect themselves from becoming victims of fraud and identity theft. 

Here are five scams authorities warn to be on the lookout for:

Tax scams continue to lead the list of scams, according to the Better Business Bureau. Scammers take advantage of tax season, with some posing as IRS agents to instill fear in their victims, demanding money or threatening jail time. Others pose as reputable tax preparers who may guarantee big refunds before completing returns, skim portions of your refund for themselves or overcharge for services. The IRS put together a “Dirty Dozen” tax scams you can fall into. 

» RELATED: ‘Dirty Dozen’ tax scams for 2017: IRS warns to keep guard up 

The “Can you hear me?” scam has long been used by fraudsters to trick businesses into purchasing office supplies and directory ads they did not order. Now consumers are in the cross hairs. When the consumer gives the typical “yes” response, the scammer makes a recording and later edits it to make it sound like the person has authorized a major purchase. Consumers have told the BBB that calls are often about vacation packages, cruises and warranties. 

» RELATED: ‘Can you hear me now?’ scam targeting local people 

Data breaches continue to be worrisome for consumers, experts say. In January, Arby’s discovered a breach impacting about 1,000 restaurants that could affect 350,000 credit card users. The Atlanta-based company faces several class-action lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Atlanta over the reported breach that allegedly put customers’ financial security at risk. The fast food chain acknowledged a breach by hackers using “malware” from Oct. 25 to Jan. 19, according to the suits. 

» RELATED: ‘Massive’ Arby’s data breach put customers at risk, lawsuits allege 

» RELATED: Do you eat at Arby’s? Restaurant looking into possible data breach 

“Storm-chaser” home repair scams are another threat to consumers, particularly as spring brings more violent weather, warns Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. 

“If you have downed trees, a damaged roof, or other storm damage, be wary of people who unexpectedly show up at your door offering services,” DeWine said. “Some con artists travel to storm-damaged areas to rip off homeowners. They promise to do the work immediately and ask for payment up front, but they leave without finishing the job. We encourage people to be careful and to research contractors before making payments.” 

» RELATED: New way to protect yourself from scams 

Phishing attacks – fake emails or websites set up to steal personal information – continue to reach all-time highs, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), an international coalition of industry, government and law enforcement that keeps tabs on cybercrime. 

The election-year WikiLeaks dump of Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s emails proved how easy the public and even high-ranking officials fall victim to the schemes. Podesta was hacked the same way many Americans fall prey: by clicking on a phony email he thought was legitimate. 

» RELATED: Experts: Even sophisticated users can fall prey to ‘phishing

Woman scammed of $4500 on Facebook

Police in Miami Township, Ohio, are warning residents of a phishing scam on social media that has robbed at least one victim of $4,500.

Investigators say criminals used Facebook to steal the $4,500 from a 75-year-old woman. The scam was in the form of a Facebook message from a friend that led the woman to believe she had just won a $200,000 lottery, except the person on the other end wasn’t her friend.

“This message said that she was eligible to win $200,000 as long as she sent $750,” said Sgt. Paul Nienhaus of the Miami Township Police Department.

After the victim sent money, she was prompted to send even more. 

“Each went to a different state one went to Pennsylvania one went to Florida,” Nienhaus said.

Police say the victim’s friend’s Facebook account had been hacked. 

“Oh it’s extremely frustrating; It’s as frustrating for us as it is the families,” Nienhaus said.

Arkansas Attorney General joins comment letter to FTC about spam and phishing text messages

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline) – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced she has joined other state attorneys general in a comment letter to the Federal Communications Commission asking it to maintain its current safeguards and filters for protecting consumers from spam and phishing text messages.

“As I continue to work with my colleagues to reduce annoying telemarketing calls to Arkansans, I want to make sure that wireless carriers do not lose their ability to protect consumers’ messaging,” Rutledge said. “Taking this ability away would make consumers increasingly vulnerable to dangerous spam and phishing schemes.”

Rutledge signed the comment letter, led by Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, along with attorneys general from Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

“Text messaging spam would be a major annoyance to consumers and would be a vehicle for various fraudulent activities,” the attorneys general said in the letter. “We believe, and our citizens desire, that this unique wireless service should be kept ‘spam free.’”