Phishing, fakes and fund-raising scams
Since this week's issue of Scambusters was about specific news of the past week or two, we're going to keep this issue of Scamlines short.
We have the low-down on a new front-door phishing expedition in Texas, bogus fund-raising teens in Boston, a sneaky trick criminals use to get those precious printed security digits off the back of credit cards and the latest fraud numbers from Australia. Check it out...
1. Front door phishing hooks victims
The scam: Posing as an official from some sort of "verification" organization, a scammer visits homes in Permian Basin, TX, telling residents their financial details have been compromised and posted in the Internet. He asks to see check books so he can verify account details.
The solution: Ouch! This has to be one of the most bare-faced, cheeky attempts to steal personal financial details.
You may think people would never give such information to callers at their front door, but some did. All we can say is: DON'T! See our article for more guidance on phishing.
2. Taking candy from strangers
The scam: Seems like a thoroughly worthwhile cause. Youngsters sell candy in malls and supermarkets in the Mission Hill area of Boston, MA, claiming to be raising money for the Boston Boys and Girls Club.
They even have a laminated information sheet about the Club -- but BBGC says it knows nothing about the venture and that, anyway, it doesn't raise money this way.
The solution: This is another example of bogus fund raising. Using teenagers adds to the plausibility. Sometimes scammers try the same type of trick with door-to-door collections or donation jars in convenience stores.
Unless you're 100% sure the collectors are genuine, why not just send your donation direct to the organization? Pick up more useful tips on dealing with charity scams here.
3. Sneaky card scammers win the numbers game
The scam: Think you're credit card's safe because you've got it in your wallet and only you know those three extra security numbers on the back? Then watch out for this trick...
You get a call supposedly from the security department of your credit card company querying a purchase that's been made using your card number, a purchase you confirm you didn't make.
The caller already knows and gives you the full main number on the card that supposedly has been used and asks you to verify it's yours. Then he tells you your billing address and asks you to verify that too. Since he apparently knows so much, it seems legit.
He gives you a case number, the toll free number on the back of your card and reassures you that the purchase will be canceled.
Just before signing off, he asks you to prove that you do in fact have the card.
How can you do that? By telling him the three security digits.
Bingo! He's got all your numbers.
The solution: The criminal got your card details elsewhere and now just needs those precious security numbers printed on the back. Never give those numbers to anyone who calls and asks for them.
Use them only for making secure purchases that you initiate. Double check any other request by independently finding the caller's number and phoning them back. We published 21 tips on avoiding credit card fraud here.
4. Australians lose $1B to fraudsters
The news: Australians lost almost AU$1 billion (about US$930 million) to fraud and scams in 2007, according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. More than 800,000 -- about 1 in 20 of the adult population -- were victims.
Identity theft accounted for more than half of the crimes, and most of these were fraudulent transactions on credit or bank cards. In total 6 million Australians received scam emails.
Unfortunately, you can count on the scammers to keep one step ahead of the authorities. However, stay tuned to Scambusters so you always know what they're up to!