A new twist on charity fraud and credit card thieves target gyms: Internet ScamBusters #296
Two more Snippets for you today:
- Beware this "Neighborly" Charity Fraud
- Credit Card Thieves Target Gyms and Sports Facilities.
Let's get started...
Beware this "Neighborly" Charity Fraud
Charity fraud come in many guises, and clever scammers are constantly inventing new "twists" on old routines.
They also know that certain scams are harder to resist. After all, it's one thing to screen telemarketers, delete suspicious emails and toss out junk mail, but quite another to refuse appeals from wide-eyed students "raising money for sick children."
And it's even harder to turn down a "student" who's one of your neighbors, right?
We recently learned of instances where "college students" went door-to-door, soliciting money for a legitimate-sounding charity. The scammers introduced themselves as a "neighbor" (obviously, this works best in larger neighborhoods) and convinced victims to buy magazines or books for children suffering from one of several diseases.
The alleged scammers even showed victims glossy brochures featuring different magazine and book titles, and then asked the person to donate some to the sick children.
In one neighborhood, some of those targeted only became suspicious when they later compared notes, and realized that:
- The people selling the books and magazines didn't actually live in the neighborhood.
- Some victims were asked to make out their checks to the salesperson, not the charity.
- Some victims were shown photocopies of sales brochures; others actual brochures.
We can't be sure, but it's possible that scammers got their hands on the materials and receipts of a legitimate charity and/or photocopied them. The scammers may even have been approached by the legitimate fundraisers earlier, and then decided to sign up as "salespeople," keeping the money for themselves.
Whatever the case, please follow the tips below to avoid being ripped off by charity fraud.
- Get the name, address and phone number of the organization. Also, ask if it's registered. If the solicitor claims that it is, get the registration number. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance offers information about national charities on their website.
- Verify with the office of the real charity that there is indeed a door-to-door campaign going on, and the person at your door is actually a representative. If you're shy about verifying this information in the rep's presence, ask him to return later, and then place the call.
- Never pay cash, and always make out your check to the charity, not to the person who knocked on your door.
You can find more information on avoiding charity scams on our site.
Credit Card Thieves Target Gyms and Sports Facilities
According to a report in the AARP Bulletin, more and more thieves are "working out at the gym" -- working out ways to steal your credit cards, that is.
Specifically, thieves are keeping tabs on the parking lots of fitness clubs and sporting facilities, breaking into patrons' cars to steal credit cards left in glove compartments or hidden underneath seats or towels.
Criminals are targeting these places, say law enforcement officials, because they know that:
- Many people are afraid to leave valuables in gym lockers.
- Victims will probably be away for one or two hours, leaving the crooks ample time to steal the credit cards AND use them to quickly purchase goods and services.
In a number of cases, thieves were able to steal credit cards and make thousands of dollars worth of purchases in less than 90 minutes -- often to buy computers and other high-end electronics.
To protect yourself, be sure you:
- Always lock your car (you'd be surprised how many people don't).
- Never leave valuables in your car, regardless of how well hidden you think they are.
- Leave credit cards at home unless absolutely necessary. Don't carry credit cards you won't be using. You can find more tips in our article What to Do if Your Credit Card or Wallet is Stolen.
These simple tips will help you avoid both charity fraud and credit card thieves.
Time to conclude for today -- have a great week!