The Internet is a natural breeding ground for scam artists and criminals because it lends itself to anonymity. Perpetrators can hide very effectively by “spoofing” or quickly changing their email address, and/or by using offshore or “zombie” computers. A “zombie” is a computer with a Trojan-horse installed. The Trojan lets the Trojan owner access the computer remotely. Now it can be used as a staging ground for anonymous attacks on other computers. Email spam and bogus websites are often used to perpetrate fraud.
The following is a list of scams and fraud causing victims millions of dollars.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW...
PACKAGE DELIVERY THEFTS: Many communities are experiencing thefts from individuals that are following the delivery trucks on their routes and stealing the packages off of the front porch shortly after they have been delivered.
If you are having packages delivered to your home:
- Make sure you get a tracking number from the store you make the purchase from.
- Track the package often to verify the anticipated delivery date.
- Watch for the delivery truck to drop off your package(s) and retrieve them from the porch as soon as they are delivered.
- If you cannot be home during the scheduled delivery date, ask a neighbor, friend or family member to retrieve the package(s) for you.
- If you see any suspicious vehicles by your home shortly after any packages were dropped off, contact your local police department and provide them with a description of the vehicle and operator. Write down the vehicle registration if you can obtain it.
IRS SCAM – There are numerous IRS Tax Scams out here. Keep in mind that the IRS will never contact you by telephone in an effort to collect unpaid taxes. If you get a call from someone claiming to be an agent from the IRS (Usually their so dumb they identify themselves as "officers", hang up the telephone. Forty Fort Borough has been targeted by these IRS Scams quite frequently. IRS SCAM 1 (New Scam), IRS SCAM 2
IDENTITY THEFT – Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. Click here to read more on the Federal Trade Commission’s id theft website. Click Here for information on handling and reporting identity theft.
CLICK HERE to Learn What You Need to do if You Fall Victim to Identity Theft.
CLIICK HERE for a comprehensive review of Identity Theft Protection Services from Reviews.com
- NEW CREDIT CARD PHONE SCAM - Click here to read more
- NIGERIAN 419 SCAM – Named after its Nigerian criminal code, the “419″ scam has circulated for years through snail mail, fax, and email. The US Secret Service, who refers to it as the Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud, has dedicated an entire section on its Financial Crimes Division page. It calls the crime a growing epidemic. This hoax email, which has too many variants, all appear to have been sent by a deposed African official or a relative of one. The email messages ask its recipients for assistance in transferring or handling a sizable sum of money, offering a corresponding share for such service. Click here to read more.
- PHISHING – Con artists phish by spamming the world with counterfeit email. Their message appears to come from a widely recognized business like Sprint, America Online, eBay, Yahoo!, American Express, etc. It may even incorporate copies of the company graphics. The objective of Phishing trips is to get into your account, or worse yet, steal your identity. These fake messages urgently request some personal information — your account number, date of birth, Mother’s maiden name, credit card expiration date, etc. Click here to see examples of phishing.
- ONLINE AUCTION FRAUD – The single largest category of Internet-related complaints to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Sentinel international database — 51,000 complaints in 2002, and officials expect even more in the coming years. A simple tip is to check their seller rating that is available on most auction sites. Only by from sellers that have a high positive seller ranking.
- FAKE CHECK SCAMS – Fake check scams can be done through the following ways: Foreign Business Offers, Love Losses, Overpayments, Rental Schemes, Sudden Riches and Work-At-Home offers. Click Here for additional information on Check Scams.
- UTILITY WORKERS - Some thieves will dress like utility workers, asking to enter your residence to check on your electric, gas, water service and etc. This is usually done in pairs. One will distract the homeowner while the other quickly rummages through your valuables, stealing what they can. Know that your local utility workers are happy to present their employment credentials to prove their identity. If unsure, refuse them entry, tell them you are calling the utility to check them out and also the police, if needed. True utility workers will remain on scene outside, happily awaiting our arrival while scammers are long gone!
- HOME IMPROVEMENT SCAMS - Beware of the travelling home improvement contractors who knock on your door with news of extra materials on hand so a real deal can be had. Often, it's not. An example are driveway sealing contractors. While there are many reputable contractors, some will rip off residents with substandard products that are poorly applied for an expensive price. We have even heard of used motor oil being spread on driveways, purported to be driveway sealer! Sales pressure is then turned up to demand payment for work that was "already done".
Other home improvement troubles arise when a contractor demands most or all of the money up front. Some contractors simply need the money to buy materials to start your job. Others have no intention of doing the work and simply pocket the cash while giving a false timetable of when they will start on your project. Talk to your family, neighbors and friends to find honorable contractors - positive word of mouth is the best advertisement.
TIPS TO AVOID BEING A VICTIM OF FRAUD
- If you receive an unexpected e-mail saying your account will be shut down unless you confirm your billing information, such as a Social Security number, do not reply or click any links in the e-mail body.
- Before submitting financial information through a Web site, look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar. It means your information is secure during transmission.
- If you are uncertain about the information, contact the company through an address or telephone number you know to be genuine.
- If you unknowingly supplied personal or financial information, contact your bank and credit card company immediately.
- Monitor credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges.
- Suspicious e-mail can be forwarded to email@example.com, and complaints should be filed with the state attorney general’s office or through the FTC at http://www.ftc.gov/.
- Consumers should also report fraudulent or suspicious e-mail to their Internet service provider.
The following is a list of helpful websites: