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» Welcome to ScamSafe

This website is a blog about consumer credit, identity theft protection, scams, security, fraud, privacy, credit reports, credit monitoring and credit scores.

Please read our legal notices.


» Defending Against COVID-19 Cyber Scams

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warns individuals to remain vigilant for scams related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Cyber actors may send emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes. Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19.

CISA encourages individuals to remain vigilant and take the following precautions.

 


Posted on March 25, 2020 at 01:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

» COVID-19 Consumer Warnings and Safety Tips

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact the United States, phone scammers have seized the opportunity to prey on consumers.

The FCC has received reports of scam and hoax text message campaigns and scam robocalls offering free home testing kits, promoting bogus cures, selling health insurance, and preying on virus-related fears.

A text message scam may falsely advertise a cure or an offer to be tested for coronavirus. Do not click on links in texts related to the virus, and check cdc.gov/coronavirus for the most current information. 

Text message hoaxes may claim that the government will order a mandatory national two-week quarantine, or instruct you to go out and stock up on supplies. The messages can appear to be from a "next door neighbor." The National Security Council tweeted that these are fake.

Scammers are also using robocalls to target consumers during this national emergency.

For example, the World Health Organization recently issued a warning about criminals seeking to take advantage of the pandemic to steal money or sensitive personal information from consumers. It urges people to be wary of phone calls and text messages that purport to be from the WHO, or charity organizations, asking for account information or for money.

The FCC has received reports of robocalls purporting to offer free virus test kits, in an effort to collect consumers' personal and health insurance information. One pernicious version of this scam is targeting higher risk individuals with diabetes, offering a free COVID-19 testing kit along with a free diabetic monitor. Other robocalls are marketing fake cures and asking for payment over the phone.

The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration have posted consumer warnings about fake websites and phishing emails used to promote bogus products.

Opportunists are also making robocalls to offer HVAC duct cleaning as a way to "protect" your home and family from the virus.

Finally, there have been news reports about possible government issued checks being sent to consumers.  If that happens, sort byno one will call or text you to verify your personal information or bank account details in order to "release" the funds.

If you think you've been a victim of a coronavirus scam, contact law enforcement immediately.

The FCC offers the following tips to help you protect yourself from scams, including coronavirus scams:

  • Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious.
  • Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.
  • Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
  • Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding.  Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
  • Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren't hacked.
  • Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating. (Learn more about charity scams.)

For more information about scam calls and texts, visit the FCC Consumer Help Center and the FCC Scam Glossary. You can also file a complaint about such scams at fcc.gov/complaints.

From https://www.fcc.gov/covid-scams


Posted on March 25, 2020 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

» Coronavirus Guidelines for America

Coronavirus.gov is a primary lane of information for the public regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19).  It is a portal for public information that is curated by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force at the White House, working in conjunction with CDC, HHS and other agency stakeholders. Coronavirus.gov will link to the appropriate Federal agency website as the authoritative source for that information as necessary.

 

 


Posted on March 25, 2020 at 12:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

» COVID-19 FRAUD

The Department of Justice is remaining vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the crisis.  In a memo to U.S. Attorneys, Attorney General Barr said, "The pandemic is dangerous enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic and this sort of conduct cannot be tolerated."

Be aware that criminals are attempting to exploit COVID-19 worldwide through a variety of scams.  There have been reports of:

  • Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud.
  • Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Malicious websites and apps that appear to share virus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
  • Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.

Criminals will likely continue to use new methods to exploit COVID-19 worldwide.

If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it without leaving your home though a number of platforms. Go to:

 


Posted on March 25, 2020 at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

» CDC - accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19

For accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s website at cdc.gov/covid19.


Posted on March 25, 2020 at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

» Avoid Coronavirus Scams

Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus.

Avoid Coronavirus Scams

Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:

  • Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.
  • Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state and local government agencies.
  • Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
  • Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
 


Posted on March 25, 2020 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

» COVID-19 Myths vs. Facts

Myth: COVID-19 is only dangerous for people 65 or older.

Fact: Approximately 12% of all COVID-19 cases are serious enough to require hospitalization. Many people are surprised to learn 20% of those hospitalizations were among patients 20-44 years old. Additionally, of patients aged 20 – 44 who get COVID-19, between 14 and 21% get sick enough to require hospitalization.

Mito: COVID-19 es solamente peligroso para personas mayores de 65 años.

Realidad: El 12% aproximadamente de todos los casos de COVID-19 son lo suficientemente graves como para requerir hospitalización. Muchas personas se sorprenden al saber que el 20% de esas hospitalizaciones estaban pacientes entre los 20 a 44 años de edad. Además, de los pacientes de edades entre los 20 y 44 años que contraen COVID-19, alrededor de un 14% y un 21% se enferman lo suficiente como para requerir hospitalización.

Myth: I need to stockpile as many groceries and supplies as I can.

Fact: Please only buy what your family needs for a week. It is important to remember that many families may be unable to buy a supply of food and water for weeks in advance. Consumer demand has recently been exceptionally high – especially for grocery, household cleaning, and some healthcare products. Freight flows are not disrupted, but stores need time to restock.

Mito: Necesito almacenar tantos comestibles y suministros como pueda

Realidad: Por favor, compre solo lo que su familia necesita durante una semana. Es importante recordar que muchas familias podrían ser incapaces de comprar un suministro de alimentos y agua para varias semanas con anticipación. La demanda de los consumidores ha sido recientemente excepcionalmente alta -  sobre todo de comestibles, productos de limpieza  del hogar y algunos productos de salud. Los transportes de mercancías no se ven interrumpidos, pero las tiendas necesitan tiempo para reabastecerse.

Myth: I heard that the government is mailing $1,000 checks. How do I sign up?

Fact: The U.S. Government is not mailing checks in response to COVID-19 at this time. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer. It’s important that you only trust information coming from official sources. The Federal Trade Commission recently provided more information about this scam and other common COVID-19 related scams on their website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing.

Mito: Oí que el gobierno está enviando cheques de $1,000. ¿Cómo me registro?

Realidad: El gobierno de EE. UU. no está enviando cheques por correo en respuesta a COVID-19 en este momento. Si alguien le dice que puede conseguirle el dinero ahora es un estafador. Es importante que solo confíe en la información proveniente de fuentes oficiales. La Comisión Federal de Comercio proporcionó más información recientemente sobre esta estafa y otras estafas relacionadas con COVID-19 en su sitio web: https://www.consumidor.ftc.gov/destacado/las-estafas-relacionadas-con-el-coronavirus-que-esta-haciendo-la-ftc

Myth: You can protect yourself from COVID-19 by swallowing or gargling with bleach, taking acetic acid or steroids, or using essential oils, salt water, ethanol or other substances.

Fact: None of these recommendations protects you from getting COVID-19, and some of these practices may be dangerous. The best ways to protect yourself from this coronavirus (and other viruses) include:

  • Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, using soap and hot water.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, sneezing or coughing.
  • In addition, you can avoid spreading your own germs by coughing into the crook of your elbow and staying home when you are sick.

Mito: Puede protegerse del COVID-19 tragando o haciendo gárgaras con cloro, tomando ácido acético o esteroides, o usando aceites esenciales, agua salada, etanol u otras sustancias.Realidad: Ninguna de estas recomendaciones lo protege contra COVID-19, y algunas de estas prácticas pueden ser peligrosas. Las mejores formas de protegerse de este coronavirus (y otros virus) incluyen:

  • Lavarse las manos con frecuencia y a fondo, usando jabón y agua caliente
  • Evitando el contacto cercano con personas que están enfermas, estornudando o tosiendo.
  • Además, puede evitar propagar sus propios gérmenes al toser en el hueco de su codo y permaneciendo en casa cuando esté enfermo.

Myth: A face mask will protect you from COVID-19.

Fact: Certain models of professional, tight-fitting respirators (such as the N95) can protect health care workers as they care for infected patients. The medical professionals will be “fit tested” prior to use.

For the general public without respiratory illness, wearing lightweight disposable surgical masks is not recommended. Because they don’t fit tightly, they may allow tiny infected droplets to get into the nose, mouth or eyes. Also, people with the virus on their hands who touch their face under a mask might become infected.

People with a respiratory illness can wear these masks to lessen their chance of infecting others. Bear in mind that stocking up on masks makes fewer available for sick patients and health care workers who need them.

Mito: Una máscara facial lo protegerá de COVID-19.

Realidad: Ciertos modelos de respiradores profesionales ajustados (como el N95) pueden proteger a los trabajadores del sistema de salud mientras atienden a pacientes infectados. Los profesionales médicos se harán "pruebas de ajuste" antes de utilizarlas.
Al público general, sin enfermedades respiratorias, no se le recomienda utilizar mascarillas quirúrgicas desechables ligeras. Debido a que no se ajustan bien, podrían permitir que pequeñas gotas infectadas entren en la nariz, la boca o los ojos. Además, las personas que tienen el virus en sus manos y se tocan la cara por debajo de una mascarilla podrían infectarse.

Las personas con una enfermedad respiratoria pueden usar estas mascarillas para disminuir la posibilidad de infectar a otros. Tenga en cuenta que el almacenar mascarillas, hace que queden menos mascarillas disponibles para pacientes enfermos y trabajadores del sistema de salud que las necesiten.

Myth: I can get coronavirus through food or food packaging.

Fact: The CDC, FDA and USDA are not aware of any reports at this time that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. Current evidence shows the biggest risk is of transmission of COVID-19 is being around individuals who are symptomatic (and to a lesser extent, infected but not showing symptoms.) Food businesses should be following employee health policies and health department recommendations to keep these individuals home. More information: https://foodsafety.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Takeout_COVID-19_Social-Media-Image_032020.png

Myth: A vaccine to cure COVID-19 is available.

Fact: There is no vaccine for the new coronavirus right now. Scientists have already begun working on one, but developing a vaccine that is safe and effective in human beings will take many months.

Myth: The new coronavirus was deliberately created or released by people.

Fact: Viruses can change over time. Occasionally, a disease outbreak happens when a virus that is common in an animal such as a pig, bat or bird undergoes changes and passes to humans. This is likely how the new coronavirus came to be.

MythThe virus will die off once temperatures rises

Fact: It is unknown whether COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, will follow the flu season and disappear during warmer months. Although it can present similar respiratory problems, COVID-19 is different from the virus strains that cause the flu.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

Myth: Antibiotics will cure COVID-19.

Fact: No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.

The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.

Sources: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters


Posted on March 25, 2020 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

» Fraud Alert – COVID-19 Testing Scam

The Durham Police Department wants to warn neighbors after receiving a report involving a scam about COVID-19 testing. 

A man was reportedly going door to door in a Northern Durham neighborhood asking residents for personal information. He said he needed the information in order for them to get COVID-19 testing at the Durham Police Department. 

We would like to make the public aware that the Durham Police Department is not doing any such testing, nor would we go door to door and ask for information for testing.

The suspect was described as a white male who got into a white Nissan occupied by several people.

We ask that everyone be vigilant and follow the below fraud prevention tips.

Thank you for helping us keep our community safe and informed. 

For information about COVID-19, please go to the Durham County Public Health Department -

Please share these fraud prevention tips provided by the investigators from the Durham Police Department’s Fraud Unit

COVID-19 Vaccine Scam: Scammers may be targeting citizens asking them to send money in order to reserve a COVID-19 vaccine and/or testing. If you’re asked to wire money, provide a money order or load a prepaid/gift card to pay to reserve a COVID-19 vaccine and/or testing, it is not legitimate.


Posted on March 25, 2020 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

» Yahoo! Inc. Data Breach Litigation Settlement

If you had a Yahoo account any time between 2012 and 2016, you can now take part in a class action settlement to compensate you for losses. Over several years, hackers were able to gain access to Yahoo user accounts, and steal personal data.

The breaches ranged in scope from two in 2012 where Yahoo said no data was taken, to a 2013 breach where hackers were able to gain access to all of the more than 3 billion Yahoo accounts.

This month, Yahoo announced that if you had an account any time between Jan.1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2016, and are a resident of the US, you are part of the settlement class and can file a claim for part of the $117,500,000 settlement fund. You can contact the settlement administrator if you want to confirm you can take part in the settlement.

The settlement provides a range of benefits to compensate those whose data was compromised in a hack. You can submit claims for money and credit monitoring:

At least two years of credit monitoring services provided by AllClearID. The service includes identity theft monitoring, up to $1 million in theft insurance and identity recovery assistant.

A cash payment if you already have credit monitoring and protection services. Yahoo said the payment could range from less that $100 to a max of $358.80, depending on funds available after other benefit payouts.

Cash reimbursement up to $25,000 to cover out-of-pocket costs to address fraud and identity theft as a result of a breach. You can also file a claim to be compensated for up to 15 hours of your time spent recovering from a breach.

A refund up to 25 percent of the amount you paid for a premium Yahoo account.

A refund up to 25 percent of the amount you paid for a Yahoo Small Business User email service, with a cap of $500 a year.

Click to contact the settlement administration.


Posted on October 9, 2019 at 08:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

» Marriott Data Breach 2018

Marriott International announced on November 30th that breach of the Starwood guest reservation database exposed personal information of up to 500 million consumers 

Marriott says hackers accessed people’s names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, passport numbers and more. Some also had payment card numbers and expiration dates stolen. 

Marriott says the breach began back in 2014. Anyone who made a reservation at a Starwood property on or before September 10, 2018 may be affected. Starwood brands include W Hotels, St. Regis, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, and other hotel and timeshare properties. Marriott now owns Starwood.

Marriott has a website https://answers.kroll.com and help center 877-273-9481 to answer questions. Customers also can sign up for a year of free ID protection services.

Source: ftc.gov

 


Posted on December 22, 2018 at 07:52 PM | Permalink

IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICES