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The www.FedPrimeRate.com Personal Finance Blog and Magazine

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Emergency! Can I Borrow Your Phone SCAM

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Emergency! Can I Borrow Your Phone SCAM...

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www.FedPrimeRate.com: Banking SCAM ALERT, Part 1

 www.FedPrimeRate.com: Banking SCAM ALERT, Part 1

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Monday, October 24, 2022

SCAM ALERT: How to Avoid Banking And Other Trending Scams; Know The Red Flags

SCAM ALERT: How to Avoid Banking And Other Trending Scams; Know The Red Flags
From the good folks at Bank of America:

Be Aware Of A Trending Zelle® Payment Scam

Beware of scammers impersonating banks and fraud departments. By spoofing legitimate phone numbers to call or text you, the requests can be very convincing. While Bank of America may send you a text to validate unusual activity, we will never contact you to request that you send money using Zelle® to anyone, including yourself or to share a code to resolve fraud.

Here's What Happens:

  • You receive a text that looks like a Bank of America suspicious activity alert.

  • If you respond to the text, you've engaged the scammer and will receive a call from a number that appears to be from a bank.

  • The “representative” or scammer will offer to help stop the alleged fraud by asking you to send money to yourself with Zelle®.

  • Then, they ask you for a one time code you just received from a bank. If you give them that code, they will use it to enroll their bank account with Zelle® using your email or phone number.

  • The scammer now has the ability to receive your money in their account.

Being vigilant is your first line of defense; here's how to help stay protected:

  • Don't be pressured to act immediately — this is what scammers want you to do.

  • Don't trust caller ID — it's not always who it says it is.

  • Don't share codes based on a call you receive.

To learn more, watch this educational video layer from Zelle®


Know The Scams That May Follow A Natural Disaster

Watch out for fake contractors. Following a disaster, unlicensed contractors will canvas the impacted areas promising to get clean up or repairs done quickly. They may ask for payment up front and not show up to do the work, or have you sign a contract that redirects insurance payouts to them and not you.

  • Do your research; get multiple quotes for comparison, and make sure the contractors are licensed.

  • Use caution if you're pressured to pay up front for the job or sign over the insurance claim. Contractors may try to offer special deals that seem too good to be true.


CLICK HERE for much more from this
highly informative Bank of America article.



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Monday, November 15, 2021

My Uncle Got Sucked Into A "Home Depot" Phishing Scam

So, I am on WhatsApp, checking out some family conversations, when I receive a message from my uncle.  Message reads:

"The Home Depot 40th Anniversary.  Click to enter to participate in the survey.  Have a chance to win $ 8,000! BeneficialYear.TOP"

Right away, red flags go up.  Looks extremely suspicious, but I click the link anyway, because I want to see what the scam looks like, so that I can warn others.

Here's a capture of the URL, and the page it took me to:

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Phishing Scam 1

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Phishing Scam Image 1


When I reloaded the page, I was taken to a totally different URL:

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Phishing Scam 2

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Phishing Scam Image 2

First of all, if this is a survey from The Home Depot, then why on Earth would I be redirected to 2 different URLs? And why would one of the domain names use a .CN top level name, meaning it's registered in China?

Moreover: all the navigation links don't work, and the same if you try to "up" or "down" vote in the comments section.

As I investigated further, I found that Firefox is aware, and warning folks:

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Mozilla FireFox Warning - Deceptive Site Ahead

Mozilla FireFox Warning
- Deceptive Site Ahead


Please people: don't forward suspicious messages to friends and family without checking them out.  You could end up doing serious harm to people you care about.



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Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Business Email Compromise (BEC) Scams

This one is costing both companies and individuals big $$$$.  The scams never end.

From the FBI website:

"...Business Email Compromise

Business email compromise (BEC) — also known as email account compromise (EAC) — is one of the most financially damaging online crimes. It exploits the fact that so many of us rely on email to conduct business — both personal and professional.

In a BEC scam, criminals send an email message that appears to come from a known source making a legitimate request, like in these examples:

  • A vendor your company regularly deals with sends an invoice with an updated mailing address.
  • A company CEO asks her assistant to purchase dozens of gift cards to send out as employee rewards. She asks for the serial numbers so she can email them out right away.
  • A homebuyer receives a message from his title company with instructions on how to wire his down payment.


Versions of these scenarios happened to real victims. All the messages were fake. And in each case, thousands—or even hundreds of thousands—of dollars were sent to criminals instead.

How Criminals Carry Out BEC Scams

A scammer might:

  • Spoof an email account or website. Slight variations on legitimate addresses (john.kelly@examplecompany.com vs. john.kelley@examplecompany.com) fool victims into thinking fake accounts are authentic.
  • Send spearphishing emails. These messages look like they’re from a trusted sender to trick victims into revealing confidential information. That information lets criminals access company accounts, calendars, and data that gives them the details they need to carry out the BEC schemes.
  • Use malware. Malicious software can infiltrate company networks and gain access to legitimate email threads about billing and invoices. That information is used to time requests or send messages so accountants or financial officers don’t question payment requests. Malware also lets criminals gain undetected access to a victim’s data, including passwords and financial account information.

If you or your company fall victim to a BEC scam, it’s important to act quickly:

  • Contact your financial institution immediately and request that they contact the financial institution where the transfer was sent.
  • Next, contact your local FBI field office to report the crime.

  • Also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

How to Protect Yourself

  • Be careful with what information you share online or on social media. By openly sharing things like pet names, schools you attended, links to family members, and your birthday, you can give a scammer all the information they need to guess your password or answer your security questions.
  • Don’t click on anything in an unsolicited email or text message asking you to update or verify account information. Look up the company’s phone number on your own (don’t use the one a potential scammer is providing), and call the company to ask if the request is legitimate.
  • Carefully examine the email address, URL, and spelling used in any correspondence. Scammers use slight differences to trick your eye and gain your trust.
  • Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you don't know, and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
  • Set up two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication on any account that allows it, and never disable it.
  • Verify payment and purchase requests in person if possible or by calling the person to make sure it is legitimate. You should verify any change in account number or payment procedures with the person making the request.
  • Be especially wary if the requestor is pressing you to act quickly..."

Business Email Compromise (BEC) Scams
Business Email Compromise (BEC) Scams

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Romance Scams

Romance Scams
Romance Scams
How can a woman willingly drain her life saving down to nothing, and send huge sums of cash to someone she has never met in real life?

It's easy to just dismiss these women as stupid, but it's not that simple.

Loneliness is a very negative and very powerful force.   It's a lot like alcohol, in that too much of it can make a smart and reasonable person do very stupid things.

It's nice to come across a story in the news about a romance scammer getting caught and punished.  But catching these predators is the exception, not the rule.  I think the global law enforcement community can do a lot better...

From this Federal Trade Commission article:

"...People looking for romance are hoping to be swept off their feet, not caught up in a scam. But tens of thousands of reports in Consumer Sentinel show that a scam is what many people find. In 2018, Sentinel had more than 21,000 reports about romance scams, and people reported losing a total of $143 million – that’s more than any other consumer fraud type identified in Sentinel.1 These reports are rising steadily. In 2015, by comparison, people filed 8,500 Sentinel reports with dollar losses of $33 million...

...Once these fraudsters have people by the heartstrings, they say they need money, often for a medical emergency or some other misfortune. They often claim to be in the military and stationed abroad, which explains why they can’t meet in person. Pretending to need help with travel costs for a long-awaited visit is another common ruse...

Scammers can reap large rewards for time spent courting their targets. The median individual loss to a romance scam reported in 2018 was $2,600, about seven times higher than the median loss across all other fraud types.2 People often reported sending money repeatedly for one supposed crisis after another...

...Help stop these scammers by reporting suspicious profiles or messages to the dating or social media site. Then, tell the FTC at www.FTCComplaintAssistant.gov..."






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Monday, August 13, 2018

Rental Scams On The Rise

Rental Scams On The Rise; clip from Nightly Business Report:


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Friday, January 19, 2018

Blackmailing with Bitcoin

Blackmailing with Bitcoin; segment by the outstanding folks at Nightly Business Report:

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Monday, June 04, 2012

Payday Loan Collection Fraud: The Biggest Scam You Have Never Heard Of

Hopefully you’ve never had to take out a payday loan; they are the bottom feeders of financial products. Unfortunately, however, they are hugely popular among the American working class. Don’t believe it? In a factsheet compiled by PaydayLoans.org you will discover that there are twice as many payday loan locations as there are Starbucks, and in 29 of the 35 U.S. states where payday lending is legal, there are more payday loan locations than McDonald’s!

Who knew that was possible?

Furthermore, these seemingly simple loans which are super easy to obtain but nearly impossible to repay cost Americans 3.5 BILLION dollars every year in fees! And it’s no wonder; 76% of total payday loan volume is repeat loans. Most borrowers find themselves needing a lump sum of money for an important, often unexpected expense. Payday loans, as the name suggests, offer a quick solution based on your employment and provides short-term financing to be collected from your next paycheck. On the surface, it sounds good and fair.  However, the reality is that low-income borrowers cannot usually afford to repay all at once because it represents too great a percentage of their regular paycheck. So, what does your friendly neighborhood payday lender do if you find yourself unable to repay in full as agreed? He or she simply offers an extension, which is really a repeat loan, until you can pay in full…for a fee. The vicious cycle is normal in the payday loan industry because the typical borrower does not make enough money to live and repay the loan in full within 14 days. Sometimes borrowers even try to borrow from Peter to pay Paul – taking out one payday loan to try and pay off another only incurs more payday loan debt and exponentially increases the size of the problem if things are not handles precisely because the cycle usually continues until the house of cards comes crashing down.

What’s worse is that many payday lenders sell your personal information to third parties! It’s right there in the privacy policy that most borrowers don’t read. So, the question is, “Who do payday lenders sell your information to?” One answer, among others, is scam telemarketers. Third parties get your information and call borrowers posing as law enforcement agencies who are ready to prosecute for delinquency in repayment. Although you may be surprised to learn that such fraud is taking place, both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Lawyers.com websites have published warnings against this elaborate scam. Apparently, many payday loan borrowers have fallen victim to these fast talking imposters; ignorance of the law, fear of prosecution, and other factors, causes unsuspecting victims to get spooked. These payday loan collection scammers have attacked my own family and friends, and had we not known as much about the law and standard business operations as we do, we may have been exploited like other unfortunate payday borrowers.

When my husband first received the phone call he was spooked; the voice on the other end of the line sounded very official, and the “officer” from the “Bureau of Investigation” was angry. He told my husband that there were multiple felony charges against him for lack of payment on his supposedly delinquent payday loans. Thankfully, by this time he had paid all of his payday loan debts except for one, and he was in good standing with the lender. So, that fact alone caused him to be suspicious. As the “officer” continued, he threatened to transfer the call the call to a “chief officer” to execute arrest warrants for him if payment arrangements were not made immediately. Fearing for what would happen to me and my children if her were imprisoned, my husband asked what he could do. He was then instructed to purchase a prepaid credit card and load money onto it without activating the card. The scammer claimed that they would take care of the activation and all those particulars, and that the account would be settled if he complied.

After he hung up and thought about it for a while, my husband asked me what I thought. Between the two of us I know more about the law and government, so I recognized immediately that this was a scam. However, the prime targets for this fraud are not so lucky. Statistics show that civic literacy in the United States is staggering; across class and gender lines, high school graduates know less and less about the Constitution and how government works, much less what government agencies actually exist and what they can and cannot do. So, anyone calling with an authoritative tone claiming to be a government or law enforcement official can easily intimidate the average citizen. Furthermore, very few people who have not actually been processed within the penal system know the ins and outs of how people are charged for crimes, i.e. what actually constitutes a felony and how felony charges would be made against someone. Payday loan collection scammers count on this civic ignorance and successfully exploit thousands of unsuspecting people, convincing them that their very way of life is at stake if they do not comply.

In addition to ignorance of the law, previous run-ins with the law are something payday loan collection scammers depend on. Many people who take out payday loans have criminal convictions or outstanding legal issues such as suspended driver’s licenses, unpaid tickets, or back child support. While it may seem prejudicial to assume such, the truth of the matter is that the financial circumstances that force people to use payday loans also prevent people from meeting their legal as well as their personal financial obligations. So, if an individual is already fearful of prosecution or penalty and they are confronted with the possibility of facing criminal charges, they will be more likely to comply with unusual or unreasonable demands.

After I assured my husband that there was no possible way that the call could be legitimate, he called the one payday lender he was sure he still owed. They confirmed that his account was in good standing and that they would never make such a call or take such measures to collect. The representative he spoke with advised him to request whatever the caller proposed in writing because she also believed it was a scam. In the first phone call, the “officer” said he would call back within a couple days, and he did as promised. When he called back, my husband asked him to send whatever he was saying in writing. The scammer actually got loud and belligerent, spewing more threats of swift legal action and making personal attacks against my husband’s character! However, when he wouldn’t budge, the guy just hung up. We shook our heads and discussed the ordeal, thanking God we didn’t succumb and wondering how something like that could have ever happened.

A couple weeks later, it happened to a friend, and he had only applied for a payday loan online. He didn’t even receive the loan! When he told me his story, I knew a full-fledged scam was going on…and that someone somewhere had fallen for it. According to the FBI, Better Business Bureau, and other authorities, thousands of people across the U.S. have been defrauded this way. Don’t be one of them; know your rights and your responsibilities with your finances, under the law, and in every other way applicable. In this case, as in all others, ignorance is what makes you a target. Knowledgeable people don’t scare easily, and they certainly don’t follow the instructions of an angry stranger on the other end of the phone.

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