How Your Netflix Obsession Could Get You Scammed

People in a rush to get back to binge-watching their favorite shows are the prime focus for this scam targeting Netflix users.

A new scam targeting Netflix users is being reported by a cyber-security company that says the scammers are trying to get credit card and other personal information.

FireEye Labs first reported the phishing scam earlier this week, saying customers should be wary of any emails asking them to update their Netflix member information. Netflix had not posted any guidance for customers on its blogs nor released an official statement at the time of this writing, but a representative sent us this: “Members who want to learn more about how to keep their personal information safe against phishing scams and other malicious activity can go to netflix.com/security or contact Customer Service directly.”

According to the FireEye Labs report, a link in the email being sent to Netflix members looks like an official Netflix web page but is not legitimate. The page asks users for:

  • The name on their credit card
  • Their credit card number
  • Card expiration date
  • 3-digit security code; and
  • Social Security number

According to FireEye, the email looks very realistic, and the phony site mimics the Netflix homepage, as you can see in the screengrab FireEye published in its report:

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 11.58.02 AM

According to FireEye, the phishing sites it referenced in its report are no longer active, but new scams like this pop up often. It’s important for consumers to know these things exist and be very careful about sharing sensitive personal or financial information.

How to Protect Yourself From Phishing & Other Scams

There are some standard best practices when it comes to protecting yourself from scams on the internet. These tips for better internet security are a good place to start. In a nutshell, it’s always a good idea to be suspicious, especially if a company is reaching out to you through email or text message. And until you’ve confirmed that the email, text or even phone call are legitimate, it’s wise to never give out personal data like your credit card or debit card numbers, date of birth, address or, worst of all, your Social Security number.

If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you can monitor your credit scores for free by using Credit.com’s free credit report snapshot, or by paying for a complete credit report monitoring service, which includes your full credit report and daily alerts to monitor your credit.

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Scam Alert: Those Campaign Calls May Be a Trick

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As Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump ramp up their campaigning efforts in the last weeks of this year’s presidential election, robocalls have increased significantly. And not just the legitimate ones. Scammers also have upped their efforts in hopes of gaming the politically fervent and gullible.

A recent review of political robocalls tied to the 2016 presidential election found that legitimate calls from the Trump and Clinton campaigns have increased by 64% since the beginning of the year, jumping 20% from July to September. At the same time, political scam calls have increased nearly 10 times that amount, up 614% since the beginning of the year.

These findings by Hiya, a company providing caller ID products and services, also showed that total Trump campaign calls to potential voters outpaced Clinton by 388%. The majority of legitimate calls from both campaigns originated from phone numbers in the Washington, D.C., and New York metro areas. Scam calls for Trump and Clinton, however, originated primarily from the following area codes.

  • 213 (Los Angeles)
  • 803 (Columbia, South Carolina)
  • 312 (Chicago)
  • 281 (Houston)
  • 212 (New York)

However, the review found that legitimate calls for the candidates originated in the following areas.

Top 5 Clinton Area Codes (where calls originate)

  • 202 (Washington, D.C.)
  • 646 (New York)
  • 215 (Philadelphia)
  • 315 (Syracuse, New York)
  • 561 (Palm Beach County, Florida)

Top 5 Trump Area Codes (where calls originate)

  • 202 (Washington, D.C.)
  • 646 (New York)
  • 315 (Syracuse, New York)
  • 585 (Rochester, New York)
  • 310 (Los Angeles)

According to Hiya’s research, which was conducted online by Harris Poll from Sept. 28-30 among 2,007 adults, most of the scam calls fall into the following three categories.

1. Re-register or Voter Verification
In an attempt to gain access to personal information such as emails, addresses and Social Security numbers, scammers pretend to re-register voters or verify their voter registration information.

2. Campaign Donations
While political campaigns can and will legally seek donations by phone, you may not want to donate directly over the phone without doing your due diligence to confirm the organization.

3. Election Surveys
Offering incentives such as free cruises, trips or gift cards, scammers ask voters to answer survey questions on behalf of a political party before asking for credit card information to cover the cost of shipping, taxes or handling of the “prize.”

What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed

If you think you may have been a victim of a scam, you can minimize the damage by monitoring your credit for signs of fraud.

Remember, an identity thief may take over your bank account and drain your balance, charge a credit card up to the limit, take over your utility or mobile phone account, and apply for credit and loan accounts in your name, sticking you with the bills and a damaged credit history to clean up. An identity thief could also apply for health insurance, jobs and tax refunds and even commit other crimes while impersonating you.

That’s why watching your accounts for unauthorized transactions, unfamiliar entries on your credit report and sudden changes in credit scores are so important. These are all signs of potential fraud and you’d be wise to address them immediately.

You can start monitoring your credit scores for free today through Credit.com’s free credit report summary, updated every 14 days.

Image: Martin Dimitrov

The post Scam Alert: Those Campaign Calls May Be a Trick appeared first on Credit.com.

7 Texts You Should Ignore

Whether you’re trying to win tickets to a sold-out concert, remind your partner to buy milk, vote for your favorite reality TV personality or ask your headphones-encased kid a question, there’s a text for that. While texting is a great convenience and time saver (not to mention an international obsession), if you respond to a wrong text — think: Wyle E. Coyote and the Roadrunner — look out below!

Phishing via text works the same way as email, the only difference is format, tone and, of course, length. The goal remains to commandeer as much information about you as possible (to use for fraud) and/or take control of your device. The pilfered information can be seriously harmful to your sanity, not to mention your finances, since scam artists are always looking to make a quick buck at your expense.

There are many texts you should handle with kid gloves, and still others that you should ignore.

I’m not talking about the obvious “don’ts” here, like looking at texts that were not sent to you. (Oh, and in case you missed that memo, sneaking a peak at your partner’s texts is and always will be a one-way ticket to relational oblivion.) What you need to worry about are texts that could have plausibly been sent to you.

This latter category of text is not always obviously fraudulent. The same thing that makes texting second nature to you is what makes it a potential hazard to your personal information safety.

Regardless of their apparent merit, instead of replying to unsolicited texts directly, you should call the purported sender directly to be sure they aren’t trying to contact you.

With that in mind, here are seven texts you’ll want to be wary of.

1. Texts From Your Bank With Links

Automatic transaction alerts are an excellent security measure. You can set an alert on your checking and savings accounts to cover all kinds of parameters, such as the minimum balance you have to maintain without incurring a fee, a trigger amount on a withdrawal and more. These can be delivered via text, and here’s the thing: the SMS version from your bank will never contain a link. If you get one that does, ignore it. You can also call your bank directly.

2. Texts From the IRS

This is the easiest phishing scam to detect. The IRS never sends texts — ever. It’s also worth noting that the IRS won’t email you about official business either. The only way to do business with the IRS is via the United States Postal Service or by telephone — and if you are contacted by phone, it’s a good rule of thumb to tell the person who called you that you are concerned about security, and you need a reference number or department because you are going to call back on the IRS main phone line about whatever the matter may be. Also keep in mind that just because your caller ID tells you the incoming call is from the IRS does not mean it is the IRS since many phishers are consummate “spoofers.”

3. Texts From Your Credit Card Company With a Call to Action

This is similar to a text from your bank, but with more options for failure. You may have transaction alerts set that get delivered via text. You may have also consented to promotional notices. The bottom line with texts from your credit card company: whatever they are allegedly saying to you via text, they will say to you on the phone. Ignore any texts with a call to action, even if you want to take the action, and call your credit card company directly on the number designated on the back of your credit card. Especially ignore the text if it says that clicking on the link (or calling the number) is the only way to get a particular promotion.

4. Unsolicited Texts From Your Doctor, Lawyer, or Accountant

Businesses that collect a lot of personal information from clients, like medical practices, law firms or accounting firms can be prime targets for hackers. If you get a text from any of these folks, no matter how convincing, and no matter how much about you they seem to know (remember, these same professionals may not have the best defenses against hackers), ignore the text and call them.

5. Random Texts From Your Mortgage Company

I am guessing you’re getting the gist of this game, but any seemingly official notification about one’s mortgage somehow has the ability to completely unhinge people, especially if there is a problem. As data breaches have become the third certainty in life, it is quite likely your mortgage information is out there. If a scammer gets ahold of it, they might try to scare you into taking an action via text, like sending payments to a new address. Ignore them and call your mortgage holder.

6. Scary Texts From Your Auto Lender

Nothing is quite as classic in the storybook of personal finance as the repo man coming to take your car. Because it’s a common nightmare scenario, we are liable to fall for it. Ignore any texts you get from your auto lender. Instead of replying, always call to find out what you already know: someone just tried to scam you.

7. Promotional Texts From Your Favorite Game

Don’t be embarrassed. We all have a game we like to play, and so do our kids. The problem here is that for real devotees, there is very little one won’t do to get an edge. Whether it’s buying points or weapons or secrets, or getting the latest upgrade the second it’s released, true gamers are a juicy target for scammers who send texts hawking special promotions, and they are less likely to be careful about whom they give their contact information to, since getting more game time is more important than anything. Same rule applies here: ignore any text that you get, and make sure your kids do as well. Go online and find the promotion from a reputable site.

If you think you’ve responded to a phishing text, you should monitor your credit for signs of identity theft. (You can do so by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.)

When it comes to staying safe, let restraint be your co-pilot. A little pause goes a long way and you don’t want to end up being the get for scammers.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: Todor Tsvetkov

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This Mystery Shopper Scam Just Won’t Die

mystery-shopper-scam

A scam involving counterfeit checks is making its way around the internet, and if you’re not careful, you could be its next victim.

That’s according to Fox 6 Now, which reported this week that a man named Jerry Peterson received a priority mail package after applying for a mystery shopper job online. Inside was a check for $3,830, along with detailed instructions on what to do with it.

Peterson was told to spend $180 at Staples and/or Office Depot and pocket $400 for himself. He was instructed to wire the remaining $3,250 back to the original sender immediately.

After discussing the package with his wife, Peterson realized it was a counterfeit check scam and called police. In a counterfeit check scam, the target is meant to wire the requested funds, deposit the check and ultimately wind up on the hook for all those dollars when the banks discovers the check is fraudulent. Fortunately, he didn’t lose any money, but Peterson told Fox 6 Now he’s receiving at least two calls a week from different phone numbers asking him if he finished his “assignment” ever since.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to research any company you are thinking of working for or doing business with before turning over sensitive personal information (like your cell phone number). And it’s a good idea to be particularly wary of companies sending counterfeit checks and/or asking you to wire money — two popular methods among scammers.

If you believe you’ve been a victim of a counterfeit check scam, you should report the fraud to your local authorities. And, if you believe your personal information has been compromised, you should monitor your credit to make sure new accounts aren’t taken out in your name. You can do so by pulling your reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your credit scores each month for free on Credit.com. A sudden drop in credit score is a sign that identity theft may be occurring.

More on Identity Theft:

Image: YinYang

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Beware This Publix Coupon Scam

publix-coupon-scam

Publix shoppers are the latest targets of a coupon scam on Facebook promising $75 off an $80 purchase. Customers took to social media to report receiving a link by private message, complete with expiration date, UPC code, terms and conditions and even the Publix logo and slogan.

The link directs users to a fake Publix website, then prompts them to share the offer with 15 friends — but not before entering their personal information to receive the gift card.

The grocery chain quickly addressed the hoax on Facebook and Twitter:

“There is a fraudulent Publix coupon circulating on social media that states $75 off your purchase of $80 or more,'” the company said. “This is not supported by Publix, and this coupon is not valid at any of our locations. We recommend not participating in the promotion or providing your personal information.”

Publix is investigating the situation.

If you receive a scammy coupon, it’s best to ignore it. And if a company offers a discount, be sure to confirm its legitimacy before turning over any personal information. Giving up personal details like your full name, address and email can help scammers target you in the future and use your own information against you, potentially even stealing your identity (and wrecking your credit) in the process.

If you have reason to believe your data has been compromised, you may want to keep an eye on your credit report (you can get free annual credit reports — here’s how). You can also view two of your credit scores for free, updated monthly, on Credit.com.

[Offer: If you need help fixing errors on your credit report, Lexington Law could help you meet your goals. Learn more about them here or call them at (844) 346-3296 for a free consultation.]

More on Identity Theft:

Image: Osmany Torres Martín

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Learn How to Spot a Student Loan Scam

Spot a Student Loan Scam

We all know that scammers live amongst us. They’re trying to find out our personal information to gain access to our bank accounts, our health care, our savings … and increasingly scammers are targeting student loans, as well.

Often these scammers tend to rear their ugly heads when someone with a student loan is making changes to his or her current plan, like consolidation, lowering payments or trying to have debt removed. It’s a scary prospect (adding one more thing to be on the lookout for when it comes to identity theft), but with a little extra attention you should be able to spot the warning signs of a scammer. Here are a couple big things to be on the lookout for:

Scam Sign No. 1: They make too-good-to-be-true promises

What it looks like: As with other things in life, often a promise that sounds too good to be true is too good to be true. Remember that federal loans typically can’t be forgiven unless there are certain circumstances for which you qualify. In other words, if a company promises to make your debt go bye-bye without even knowing whether or not you qualify for debt forgiveness, more likely than not it is a scam.

Scam Sign No. 2: Their logo or name seems oddly familiar

What it looks like: If the company you’re dealing with has a name that’s almost but not quite the same as a well-known debt relief/student loan servicing company, that’s a big red flag. Always check with the Better Business Bureau for reviews of any company before working with them, since many scammers may try to use the likeliness of well-known companies to lure confused people in.

Scam Sign No. 3: They ask for fees up front

What it looks like: Advice or counseling as it relates to student loan debt relief shouldn’t come with a charge, and you should never pay anything up front before a company has even done anything to help you out. If the company you’re dealing with asks you to pay before anything has even been done, stop working with that company immediately.

Check out this piece for three more ways to spot a student loan scam so you don’t fall victim.

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