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American Red Cross Disaster Relief

At least 120,000 people have lost their lives in East Africa and South Asia in the aftermath of the earthquake and resulting tsunamis on December 26.

As of today, over $8 MILLION has been donated to the American Red Cross through

For more information about the American Red Cross, please call 1‑800 HELP NOW or e-mail

Posted on December 31, 2004 at 09:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FRAUD ALERT: Beware of Pyramid Schemes

What is a pyramid scheme?

Pyramid schemes are illegal scams in which large numbers of people at the bottom of the pyramid pay money to a few people at the top. Each new participant pays for the chance to advance to the top and profit from payments of others who might join later.

Of course, the pyramid may collapse long before you reach the top. In order for everyone in a pyramid scheme to profit, there would have to be a never-ending supply of new participants. In reality, however, the supply of participants is limited, and each new level of participants has less chance of recruiting others and a greater chance of losing money.

What you should know about pyramid schemes

They are losers. Pyramiding is based on simple mathematics: many losers pay a few winners.

They are fraudulent. Participants in a pyramid scheme are, consciously or unconsciously, deceiving those they recruit. Few would pay to join if the diminishing odds were explained to them.

They are illegal. There is a real risk that a pyramid operation will be closed down by law enforcement officials and the participants subject to fines and possible arrest.

Posted on December 29, 2004 at 01:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Michigan Gets Tough on ID Theft

The laws, which take effect in March, bar retailers from displaying more than the last four digits of a credit card account number on a sales receipt or mailing. Also, employers cannot print Social Security numbers on an ID badge or card, and victims of identity theft have the right to obtain a police report.
Other measures make it a felony to use people's ID information without their consent, and limit companies from using Social Security numbers as primary account numbers -- with several exceptions.
The identity theft bills are Senate Bills 220, 657, 792, 793, 795, 798 and 1384; and House Bills 6169, 6172, 6174 and 6177.

Several bills help prevent identity theft by strengthening privacy protections on the use of personal information like social security numbers.

SB 657 limits a company’s right to require customers to disclose their social security number (SSN) in order to do business;SB 795 prohibits the public display of SSNs, encourages the creation of privacy policies regarding use and disposal of SSNs, and prohibits the printing of SSNs on health care cards, student IDs and other cards, badges or licenses;SB 220 bans the printing of full credit card numbers on receipts.

Several other bills take steps to assist law enforcement officials to better track and prosecute identity thieves. 
·         SB 792 strengthens the definition of identity theft under the law;
·         SB 793 breaks down jurisdictional barriers that have blocked many identity theft cases from prosecution, allowing prosecution in the victim’s home city or county;
·         HB 6172 extends the statute of limitations for identity theft crimes;
·         HB 6169  redefines identity theft in the criminal code. 

The final bills in the package assist victims of identity theft to recover:
·         SB 1384 gives victims the right to have a police report taken and to get a copy of that report;
·         SB 798 protects victims from being denied credit or utility service because they’ve been an identity theft victim.

The full text of the bills can be found at

Thanks to Linda Foley of the ID Theft Resource Center.

Category: Identity Theft News
Posted on December 28, 2004 at 10:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

FRAUD ALERT: Phishing reminder--scam targets MSN customers

There are far too many phishing scams for us to list on this blog. And they just keep coming and coming. But I felt it was worth a reminder to everyone to watch out for emails that appear to be from a trusted sourced and, in some way, ask you to click on a link and update or input some account information. The rule here is: NEVER TRUST A LINK OR URL IN AN EMAIL YOU RECEIVE. And don't input information of any kind into a web site that you got to from clicking on an email link.

Internet and e-mail users should be wary of an identity theft scam appearing in the guise of an information request of Microsoft Network Web site customers.

A fictitious “James Dawson of MSN Support” asks customers via e-mail to update account information, threatening deletion of one’s account.

Posted on December 21, 2004 at 02:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Ohio Attorney general offers ID card to help identify theft victims

CLEVELAND -- By January, identity theft victims will be able to get ID cards from the state of Ohio to show creditors, banks and police while they try to recover from financial losses or crimes others committed using a victim's personal information.

Attorney General Jim Petro introduced the wallet-size Theft Verification Passport cards Tuesday.

from ONN

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on December 16, 2004 at 12:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FRAUD ALERT: Scam traps

Guide to common cyberscams

Here is a list of common Internet fraud schemes drawn from the 100-plus investigations launched under Operation Cyber Sweep, a government initiative to combat online crime. The investigations were prompted by referrals from the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, which posted the list.


The types of scams listed are:

Credit/debit card fraud
Identity theft
Nondelivery of goods/services
Online auction/retail
Freight forwarding/reshipping
Advance-fee fraud schemes
Counterfeit check schemes
Business/employment schemes
Investment fraud
Phony escrow services
Ponzi/pyramid schemes

Posted on December 14, 2004 at 11:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FRAUD ALERT: Holiday Consumer Alert


Press Release from the Identity Theft Resource Center

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the biggest shopping season of the year. As we enter the holiday season this is a good time to remind everyone to take additional precautions against identity theft. Because of the distractions of the holidays and crowded shopping environments, conditions are ripe for identity thieves to take advantage of the situation. Please keep in mind that not all thieves work alone. They may have an accomplice whose job is solely to distract the shopper from the theft.

Posted on December 11, 2004 at 10:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FRAUD ALERT: Lottery Fraud

Beware of Lottery Schemes

Fraudulent telemarketers have often used offers of “investing” in foreign lottery tickets or chances as a vehicle to defraud consumers. Although federal laws forbids the importation, interstate transportation, and foreign transportation of lottery tickets or chances, many fraudulent telemarketers routinely contact people in the United States, through mailings, advertisements, and telephone calls, to solicit their involvement in foreign lotteries such as the “Canadian Lottery.”

Victims often begin by paying as little as $5 or $10 for lottery chances. Many of those who do are later contacted by telemarketers who hold themselves out as “experts” in “investing” in lottery chances, and who solicit the victims for larger and larger amounts of money. Law enforcement authorities in the United States and Canada are aware of many instances in which victims have sent thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars to lottery telemarketers, after hearing repeated promises or guarantees of vast returns.

In reality, the telemarketers invest little or none of the victims' money in the lottery tickets or chances, and keep the money for themselves after paying salaries and other expenses of their fraudulent business. In some instances, where victims had been given certain lottery numbers by the telemarketers, and later learned independently that their numbers had won a real lottery, the victims were told that their winnings had been “invested” in other lottery tickets rather than being paid to them directly.

In other words, never take part or give money to anyone talking about a lottery investment--hang up the phone. It's a scam.

Thanks to the US Dept of Justice

Posted on December 11, 2004 at 07:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Federal Law provides A FREE CREDIT REPORT

Beginning December 1, 2004, if you live in California or "Western states", you will be able to get a free copy of your credit report once a year from the three nationwide companies that compile these financial profiles. This right will be phased in nationwide, but goes into effect first in the western states.

These consumer credit reports compiled by Equifax, Experian and Trans Union reflect where you live, how you pay your bills, whether you've been sued or filed for bankruptcy. The reports affect whether you can get a loan or credit card - and how much you will have to pay to borrow money. These reports also can affect your ability to get a job, rent a home or obtain insurance.

Because of its significance, you will want to make sure the reports contain accurate, complete and up-to-date information before you apply for a loan for major purchases such as a house, a car, insurance, or apply for a job.

Checking these reports also can help combat identity fraud since you will be able to spot if someone has opened unauthorized accounts in your name or there have been delinquent payments reported for purchases you didn't authorize or didn't even know were made.

Once every 12 months, you may order your reports from one, two or all three of the nationwide consumer reporting companies, separately or at the same time. One way to make the most of this opportunity is to order a report from just one of the three credit bureaus, then wait four months to order a report from another and, four months later, order a report from the third credit bureau. By repeating this process annually, you can monitor your credit report regularly, at no cost.

Use one of the following centralized systems developed by the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies to order your credit report.


Toll-free number: ( 8 7 7 )   3 2 2 - 8 2 2 8

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on December 10, 2004 at 03:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Check 21: Check Clearing for the 21st Century

Details about the newly effective check clearing system in the U.S.

The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (Check 21) was signed into law on October 28, 2003, and became effective on October 28, 2004. Check 21 is designed to foster innovation in the payments system and to enhance its efficiency by reducing some of the legal impediments to check truncation. The law facilitates check truncation by creating a new negotiable instrument called a substitute check, which permits banks to truncate original checks, to process check information electronically, and to deliver substitute checks to banks that want to continue receiving paper checks. A substitute check is the legal equivalent of the original check and includes all the information contained on the original check.

For more info, see the Federal Reserve Board's Consumer Guide to Check 21 and Substitute Checks.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on December 8, 2004 at 10:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Watch out for this one: ID lock offers to help you totally lock your identity and provide complete protection from ID theft or financial fraud. It's an absurd claim. Furthermore, what they charge you over $200 for is simply a few easy things you can do yourself (see our FAQ). Don't get suckered into this--it's a lousy deal for all consumers. We believe that eventually the FTC will shut them down.

Posted on December 5, 2004 at 04:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

FRAUD ALERT: First Link Benefits & credit card scam

This company uses telemarketing to deliver its scam. They offer a pre-approved credit card with a computer "bonus" at a very very low price. They get consumers to give checking account numbers in order to pay for the computer...and they say this is so the consumer will have the entire credit line available for their own purchases. Then the criminals use an electronic demand to draw money from the checking account--leaving you with no computer, no cash and no credit card.

Keep in mind that scams like this will change their form slightly (a different name or instead of a computer it will be something else, for example). Don't fall for them. USE THIS RULE: NEVER GIVE YOUR BANK ACCOUNT OR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER OVER THE PHONE.

If you feel that is too restrictive, then at the least you should use this rule: GIVE YOURSELF A COOLING OFF PERIOD. Wait a day before signing up. The scam artists will always say something like "you have to order now or you'll lose this offer." That's a FRAUD SIGNAL. If they were legitimate, they wouldn't mind waiting a day to get your business. So, wait a day yourself, think it over and if you can, do a Google search on them. My guess is the next day you'll realize it's a bad deal.

Posted on December 5, 2004 at 04:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (38) | TrackBack