For Your Information

If You Get This Email, Don't Open It, IRS Warns

- by - MSN

If you get an email about an upcoming stimulus check, don't open it.

On Aug. 30, the IRS released an announcement, warning U.S. adults not to open emails about upcoming stimulus checks. According to the agency, there have been recent reports about stimulus-related scams directed through email, in which con artists try to pose as the IRS and convince taxpayers to enter personal information or submit a payment.

"Recent scam reports include phishing emails claiming the IRS has calculated a taxpayer's 'fiscal activity' and they are eligible for an Economic Impact payment in a specific amount," the agency explains. Per the IRS, scammers may also try to contact you via text, sending a message claiming you're eligible for a "stimulus payment" and must click on a link to enter information in order to claim it.

How to Spot ATM/Gas Credit Card Skimmers

How to Spot ATM/Gas Credit Card Skimmers

- by - CBS 46

A woman told CBS46 she discovered a skimmer attached to an ATM card reader that can give identity thieves access to your bank account.

[Actual article date is 7/6/2017, but report is still important]

States Issue Warnings About Seed Packets From China

- by - MSN News

Officials in at least six states are urging residents to report any unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to have been sent from China, warning that they might be invasive or otherwise harmful.

The agriculture departments in Washington State, Louisiana, Kansas, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio have issued statements in recent days, noting that residents had reported receiving packages of seeds in the mail that they had not ordered. Based on photos, the seeds appear to have been mailed in white pouches displaying Chinese lettering and the words “China Post,” though photos released by the Ohio Department of Agriculture show that seeds have also been sent in yellow envelopes.

“Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your state department of agriculture or A.P.H.I.S. contacts you with further instructions,” said Ms. Sequeira, the Louisiana agriculture and forestry commissioner. “Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.” Anyone who received the seeds in the mail should contact state plant regulatory officials or A.P.H.I.S. officials in their state.

This Costco scam is circulating – don't fall for it

- by - MSN

If you randomly get a text from Costco offering you free merchandise, beware — it’s part of a scam reported by Instagram account CostcoDeals.

Apparently, some people are getting a text that promises $130 in Costco freebies as part of a “Covid-19 stimulus package,” and all you have to do to get the deal is click the link to take out a customer survey. DO NOT CLICK THAT LINK!

Unfortunately, there is no such deal being offered by Costco. It’s a total scam, designed to prey upon people who are feeling vulnerable.

Fake lawyer sends scam inheritance letter to real lawyer

- by - MSN

It's a classic scam that the perpetrator — or perpetrators — has taken to a new level with phony letterhead, a phony website, identity theft and a whole lot of chutzpah.

It's also a teachable moment about why so many people — often seniors — get fleeced by rackets that go to elaborate lengths to hoodwink victims.

It shouldn't be necessary for me to say but obviously it is, considering the millions in losses this scam racks up every year — don't fall for this.

Yes, it's possible there's a relative you never knew about who perished in a ghastly accident and left behind millions of dollars in unclaimed funds.

But probably not.

Stop abbreviating 2020. Police say it leaves you open to fraud and could cost you big

- by - MSN News

The new year is giving scammers an easy way to forge documents, but you can protect yourself with an easy New Year's resolution: Stop abbreviating the year.

Why? This year's abbreviation is easily changeable and could be used against you. The concern is that scammers could easily manipulate a document dated "1/1/20" into "1/1/2000" or even "1/1/2021."

Writing out the full date "could possibly protect you and prevent legal issues on paperwork," according to Hamilton County, Ohio, Auditor Dusty Rhodes.

12 Dangerous Scam Phone Numbers and Area Codes to Avoid

- by - Clark

How many times have you heard the phone ring but didn’t want to pick it up because it could be one of those scam phone numbers dialing you?

We’ve got a list of dangerous area codes — like the 712 area code, among others — and scam phone numbers to avoid that you’re going to want to see!

Area codes that participate in traffic pumping are typically located in scarcely populated rural parts of a couple of Midwestern states. These two area codes in particular are notorious for traffic pumping:

  • 712 area code – Western Iowa
  • 218 area code – Northern Minnesota

The Federal Trade Commission says you should never call back numbers in these area codes:

  • 268 area code – Antigua and Barbuda
  • 284 area code – British Virgin Islands
  • 473 area code – Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique
  • 664 area code – Montserrat
  • 649 area code – Turks and Caicos Islands
  • 767 area code – Commonwealth of Dominica
  • 809, 829, 849 area codes – Dominican Republic
  • 876 area code – Jamaica

Americans are plagued by robocalls. Some of the most troublesome are those that come from 712 area code, but let’s face it: Any spam call is a bad call, no matter where it originates from.

Hopefully this guide will help you keep the scammers under control. Remember, the best advice is this: If a call comes in from a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer it!

Never (Ever!) Charge Your Phone at the Airport Without This $7 Travel Gadget

- by - MSN

Public USB charging stations could be tampered with to steal data from your phone.

The simplest way to avoid the possibility of having your devices infected with malware via juice jacking is to bring your own charging cables with you and always use an AC power outlet instead of a USB charging station in public spaces. Since AC power outlets are rarely open at airports and not available on all airlines, you’ll also want to bring your own portable charger with you.

If you’d rather avoid carrying a portable charger or bulky AC plug-in charger, there’s another device called a USB data blocker—also known (unfortunately) as a “USB condom”—that connects directly to your USB plug and weighs less than an ounce.

18 Online Shopping Traps and Scams To Watch Out For

- by - MSN

Online shopping can help you save money and access a wide variety of products, but there are downsides, too. Hackers and other online criminals are constantly trying to scam shoppers by offering fake deals and discounts. In fact, according to a recent Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker report, online purchase scams are the second-riskiest type of fraud after employment scams.

By knowing the most common scams and traps that online shoppers encounter, you can set your finances up for a better future.

  1. Requests To Pay With Wire Transfers
  2. Links Sent via Text Messages
  3. Fake Websites or Domains
  4. Outrageous Discounts
  5. Avoid Shopping When You're Using Public Wi-Fi
  6. Phishing Emails
  7. Fake Shipping Alerts
  8. Bypassing Sketchy Contact Information
  9. Not Researching Deals
  10. Not Monitoring Your Accounts
  11. Fake Coupon Sites
  12. Purchasing Final Sale Items Too Early
  13. Subscribing To Too Many Alerts
  14. Relying On Reviews
  15. Buying More To Get Free Shipping
  16. Fake Apps
  17. 'Designer' Products at Deep Discounts
  18. Hidden Shipping Charges

To do:

  • Protect Yourself
  • Verify a Website or App's Authenticity
  • Don't Be Too Reliant on Reviews
  • Shop Around
  • Pay With a Credit Card
  • Don't Provide Any Personal Information to an Online Merchant
  • Remember That if It Looks Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is

15 worst scams of the past decade

- by - MSN

No doubt about it — 2019 was the Year of the Scam. From news coverage to documentaries to investigations, arrests, and prison sentences, few — if any — trips around the sun have seen so many people trying to pull the for-financial-gain wool over folks' eyes.

In no particular order, here's a walk down a rather fraudulent memory lane of the past decade's biggest scams.

  1. Fyre Festival
  2. Operation Varsity Blues
  3. Fake IRS Agent Scam
  4. The Hollywood Scammer
  5. Cheah Siew Im
  6. The Grandparent Scam
  7. Affordable Care Act Scams
  8. Fortnite Fraudsters
  9. Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos
  10. Natural Disaster Scams
  11. Anna Delvey-Anna Sorokin
  12. Nigerian Romance Ruse
  13. GoFundMe Scam
  14. Evaldas Rimasauskas
  15. Free iPhone/iPad

20 Things Car Thieves Won’t Tell You

- by - MSN

Is your car about to be stolen? Experts reveal what catches a car thief’s eye when looking for a new target, and how you can protect your vehicle.

#20: Thieves Target Car Manuals

Thieves might not steal a car right away. Instead, they might break in to grab a car manual, which might have a valet key. More important, the glove box is likely to contain some valuable information like the VIN number along with your insurance information. They will use that info to claim the car is theirs to get new keys made and come back to steal it later. Instead, try putting all your car info in an accordian folder in the garage.

Never use a debit card, plus other advice from a former con artist

- by - MSN

Every year, millions of American consumers — nearly 7% of the population — are victims of scams and fraud. In 2017, the number of fraud victims in the US reached 16.7 million, with $16.8 billion lost.

Protect your identity; Technology is the identity thief's best tool; Don't use debit cards

As I said at the Google talk, a debit card is certainly and truly the worst financial tool ever given to the American consumer. Why? It's simple: Every time you use one, you put your money and your bank account at risk.

Instead, use a credit card. I use one for practically all of my purchases, even when I'm traveling abroad. With credit cards, federal law limits my liability if there's an unauthorized use of my card.

Also, keep your check-writing to a minimum and be vigilant about examining your bank statements frequently.

This Social Security scam is just evil

- by - MSN

Since 2014, the FTC has received almost 1.3 million reports about government impostors, The complaints far surpass any other type of fraud reported in the same time frame, the agency said.

“Many people have received a call or voicemail from someone warning them that their Social Security number or benefits are suspended due to suspicious activity,” Darlynda Bogle, assistant deputy commissioner for the Social Security Administration (SSA), wrote in a recent blog post. “It’s an alarming scam and one we must help people identify so that they do not become the next victim.”

This is a seriously troubling trend, and we all have to get the word out about this scam, Bogle said. She shared the following tips from SSA:

  • Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
  • Never give out personal information such as your account numbers, passwords, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name or other identifying information if a call seems suspicious.
  • Government employees will not threaten to take away benefits or ask for money or personal information to protect your Social Security card or benefits.
  • If you receive a call from someone asking for your Social Security number, bank account number or credit card information, don’t engage this caller. Instead, hang up and report that information to SSA’s Office of the Inspector General via its online fraud-reporting form.

You can also report government impostor scams to the FTC at For more information about other scams, go to

Here's how a growing Social Security impostor scam works

- by - MSN

To scammers, your Social Security number is gold-plated and diamond-encrusted asset, and now they have a new way to try to steal yours and get paid.

Consumer advocates are raising an alert about a twist to an old impostor phone scam. It's called the "Social Security impostor scam." A blog at the Federal Trade Commission recently wrote: "In the shady world of government, the SSA scam may be the new IRS scam."

According to and the FTC, here are some important things to remember:

  • Don't trust your phone's caller ID. Scammers can make it look as if the Social Security Administration is calling and even use the agency's real number.
  • Don't give your Social Security number, other personal information, to a caller on the phone.
  • Social Security will never suspend your number, according to If anyone tells you something different, you're being scammed.
  • Social Security will never call you and demand money. No government agency will demand you pay something using gift cards or Bitcoin either.
  • If you have a question, check with the real Social Security Administration. The administration will never contact you out of the blue. The agency's number is 1-800-772-1213.
  • Talk about the scam with friends, family and neighbors. Report government impostor scams to the FTC at

Human trafficking victims mostly underage children from within the US

- by - MSN News

Every year more than 40 million people are forced into the world of human trafficking, someone's sons and daughters trapped in this modern-day slavery.

It’s everyday Americans who are the most common victims of human trafficking, with some as young as 10 years old being traded or sold for forced labor and sexual exploitation.

“It's often targeting the most vulnerable in society, people that you might walk by every day-- whether you go through a transit hub, whether you're at a hotel, and something that doesn't capture your attention right off the bat,” Sweeney said in a recent interview with Fox Report anchor Jon Scott.

If you are being trafficked or suspect that someone you know is being trafficked contact The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST or CYBERTIPLINE.ORG.

‘One Ring’ robocall scam targeting New York and Arizona area codes, FCC warns

- by - MSN News

Don’t return that middle of the night phone call if your cellphone only rang once.

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday alerted consumers about a wave of “One Ring” robocalls after detecting “widespread overnight calling” in both New York and Arizona.

In addition to not returning the phone call, officials encouraged people against calling back numbers they don’t recognize – especially if they appear to be international. And if you don’t typically receive international calls, block all phone calls coming from outside the country, the FCC said.

Minnesota child-sex sting results in 58 arrests, state says

- by - MSN News

Minnesota authorities arrested 58 people accused of attempting to solicit children for sex or for trafficking in a sting operation staged during the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, state authorities said on Wednesday.

The sting, which resulted in the rescue of 28 victims from trafficking situations, including one minor, occurred Friday through Monday as undercover agents posed as minors or as sex buyers and chatted with suspects on social media platforms. Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place for an encounter, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

26 women rescued in Seattle human trafficking bust

- by - MSN News

Seattle police said they rescued 26 women after a three-and-a-half-year human trafficking investigation into massage parlors across the city. After receiving dozens of complaints, police investigated 11 businesses and arrested six people for promoting prostitution and money laundering.

The victims, who are originally from China, were between the ages of 20 and 60. Police said they were forced to work 20 hour days, seven days a week in unsafe living conditions. They said the victims were often monitored under video surveillance and followed by the suspected organizers.

"The victims were lured to the United States with the promise of legal employment and making money to better their lives," said Deputy Chief Marc Garthgreen, CBS affiliate KIRO reported.

The victims have been united with local service providers who are assessing their needs for food, transportation, medical assistance and living arrangements.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security assisted the Seattle Police Department with the investigation.

This Is Why You Should Never Call Back an Unknown Number

- by - MSN

We’ve all had it happen: You look at your phone and notice a missed call from a familiar-looking number that isn’t in your contacts. Your first instinct might be to call back and see who it was, but that’s the last thing you should do.

Scammers 'are adept at spoofing phone numbers for caller ID purposes,' says Adam Levin, founder of CyberScout. So just because a number shares your area code doesn’t mean the caller is from your town. Crooks purposely use familiar area codes to gain your trust. Don’t miss these other sneaky ways con artists win your trust.

Note to phone scammers: Don’t call the former head of the FBI

- by - VICE News

Phone scammers have had a lot of success cheating Americans out of billions of dollars, and they might have even more luck this year, with experts estimating at least half of all cellphone calls in 2019 will be from scammers. Senior citizens have been especially vulnerable, but in the case of William Webster and Lynda Webster, the scammer couldn't have picked a worse target.

In 2014, William got a call from a man who told him he'd won a grand prize, but he'd have to pay a tax up front to claim the money. Lynda also took a call from the scammer that got very heated: When she said she was onto him, he came back with threats, saying he knew where she lived and could set the house "ablaze" and kill her.

What the scammer didn’t know was William wasn’t your average retiree. He’s the only man who has ever served as the director of both the FBI and the CIA. So naturally he got the FBI involved.

Top Ten Most Wanted - Sexual Predator Greg Alyn Carlson

- by -

Reward of Up to $100,000 Offered

Officials are reporting a recently confirmed sighting of Carlson. This information is being shared with the public in order to generate tips that lead to Carlson's arrest. A reward of up to $100,000 is being offered in exchange for information leading to the arrest of Carlson.

Approximately two weeks ago, the FBI received information of a confirmed sighting of Carlson in the Mount Pleasant area of South Carolina where Carlson has known ties. Based on this information, investigators believe that Carlson is likely still in the southeast area of the United States. Agents have conducted additional investigation in the area but to date, have not located Carlson.

Carlson was seen in a late model white Hyundai Accent vehicle which he had been driving on previous occasions. The state and number of the license plate on the vehicle seen by eye-witnesses two weeks ago is unclear but investigators suspect Carlson may have stolen a plate from another vehicle.

At this time, investigators have reason to suspect that Carlson may be traveling in the states listed below, but have not ruled out travel by Carlson in additional states, nor even that Carlson may have by now crossed the border:

South Carolina • North Carolina • Georgia • Florida • Alabama • Texas

If you have information that may lead the FBI to this fugitive, please call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Download Carlson's Wanted Poster.

FBI warns of adultery blackmail scam

- by - MSN News

The FBI's Jacksonville division warned central Florida residents and others of a blackmail scam claiming to have evidence of adultery to its victims. The scammer usually threatens to reveal the information to the recipient's family or spouse unless demands are met, according to the FBI. 

If you come across this scam, FBI recommends you report it to law enforcement. You could also submit information to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The warning comes as a study released in June reveals sweepstakes, lottery and prize-related scams cost Americans millions of dollars each year. The Better Business Bureau calls these schemes some of the "most serious and pervasive frauds operating today."

Sex ads website seized by U.S. authorities: posting

- by - Reuters

U.S. law enforcement agencies have seized the sex marketplace website as part of an enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a posting on the Backpage website on Friday.

Lawmakers and enforcement officials have been working to crack down on the site, which is used primarily to sell sex and is the second largest classified ad service in the country after Craigslist.

Impostor Scams Top List of 10 Biggest Frauds

- by - AARP

FTC releases data on 2017; total reports fell but amount lost rose to $905 million

Impostor scams were again the top fraud in 2017, according to the FTC, which has detailed 2.7 million complaints of scams last year.

84 Children Rescued, 120 Human Traffickers Arrested Across U.S., FBI Says

- by - NBC News

Operation Cross Country XI focused the attention of law enforcement agencies on a single goal: taking out "pimps" who run human trafficking rings.

This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse.

Judge allows money laundering charges against Backpage execs

- by - ABC News

California prosecutors can bring money laundering charges against the creators of a website that prosecutors label an online brothel, a judge ruled Wednesday. But he dismissed other charges months after another judge threw out the entire case as violating free speech and federal protections.

Prosecutors filed new and expanded charges against chief executive Carl Ferrer and website founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin this spring. The three pleaded not guilty after the judge allowed the money laundering charges.

The Man Who Wrote Those Password Rules Has a New Tip: N3v$r M1^d!

- by - The Wall Street Journal

The man who wrote the book on password management has a confession to make: He blew it.

Back in 2003, as a midlevel manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Bill Burr was the author of “NIST Special Publication 800-63. Appendix A.” The 8-page primer advised people to protect their accounts by inventing awkward new words rife with obscure characters, capital letters and numbers—and to change them regularly.

New round of phone scams gets unsuspecting consumers to return calls

- by - Fox 31 Denver

Deanna Robichaud has been getting some strange phone calls.

A recording says, “If you don't return the call, you will have to face the legal consequences.”

Consumer experts warn against calling the suspicious numbers because it can be another way for scammers to get personal information.

“If they get you on a recording saying yes, then they can use that for you to have agreed to any number of terms and conditions or modifications to your account," said Krista Ferndelli of the Denver-Boulder Better Business Bureau.

Don’t ever answer calls with phone numbers with THESE area codes

- by - MSN

There’s nothing more frustrating than eagerly answering a call only to find out it’s a telemarketer or, worse, a scammer.

There are some phone calls with certain area codes that you should never pick up under any circumstances. Any phone number that starts with 473 is a surefire sign that the call is a scam. Also avoid answering numbers with 809 or 900 along with many others.

Beware of FBI impersonators who show up at your door and demand money

- by - Clark Howard Show

If someone claiming to be an FBI or other federal agent shows up at your home or office and demands money -- you could be in big trouble!

Not in trouble with the police, in fact, you should call the police -- because anyone who shows up unannounced and demands money on behalf of the government is a crook trying to catch you off guard.

"The FBI will absolutely never demand money from somebody."

Beware of new 'can you hear me' phone scam

- by - Clark Howard Show

You answer the phone and the person on the other end says, "can you hear me?" Seems harmless -- in fact, it happens all the time, so why would you think anything of it?

That's exactly why criminals behind a new scam are using it as a ploy to trick unsuspecting consumers. Once they have a recording on file of your voice saying "yes," scammers can then use it to authorize unwanted charges on bills, credit cards and more.


Bottom line: So don't say anything and​ don't press any buttons -- just hang up!

Gmail hack: Even tech-savvy users fooled by sophisticated phishing technique

- by - iNews

Even tech-savvy Gmail users are falling victim to hackers who steal their login credentials, according to a security expert, who notes that increasingly sophisticated phishing techniques are being employed.

How does it work?

The hacker will first send you an email, which includes an attachment, according to Mark Maunder, the CEO of WordPress security plugin Wordfence.

When you click on the attachment to preview it, a new tab opens to what looks like a Gmail login page. However it isn’t genuine. If you enter your email and password, hackers will have stolen your credentials and have full access to all of your emails...

Fighting phone scammers; their tricks and where they may be calling from

- by - KATU News

Police say scammers falsely claiming to be from the IRS or law enforcement are still a big problem.

But a new tool from the Better Business Bureau may help you fight back. It reveals how crooks trick people into taking their calls and where they may be calling from.

KGW Asked 86 Burglars How They Broke Into Homes

- by - KGW News

Find out what burglars said deterred them and what didn't and learn how to protect your home.

Mystery device could let criminals get in your car in seconds

- by - Today

In June 2013, TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen reported on a wave of auto thefts involving a high-tech gadget giving criminals full access to your car.

Police were stumped. But now officials say they may have solved the mystery.

Protect your online purchases from 'porch pirates'

- by - USA Today

USA Today has some tips and advice to protect your delivered packages from brazen thieves who steal from your front doorstep in broad daylight.