Deja Vu Deception: These Old Scams Resurface Again

Re-run ripoffs are nothing new; what’s previously worked for scammers will likely be successful again. And that holds especially true for these three long-time (and historically prosperous) ploys that have resurfaced with a vengeance: Jury Duty Scam Going strong for more than a decade, this telephone scheme has scammers posing as court employees or members of law enforcement ranging from local police to U.S. Marshalls. They say that you failed to appear for mandated jury duty – and as a …

13 Simple Steps to Protect Your Privacy

Simple steps can go a long way in protecting your privacy from prying eyes, including those belonging to on-the-lookout scammers. Here are some of the easiest and (usually) free safeguards to reduce your risk of scams, hacking and other dastardly deeds. Password-protect every device you own — smartphone, PC, laptop and tablet — with a PIN that isn’t among these commonly used and most-often hacked: 0000, 1111, 1212, 1234, 2580 (middle column of phone keypad) or 5555. Also avoid your …

Trouble From the Toy Box: Will That ‘Smart’ Holiday Gift for the Grandkids Be a Spy for Hackers?

If “smart toys” are on the holiday wish list of the children in your life, know this: The FBI warns that such interactive, internet-connected gifts could be compromised by cyber hackers, and it advises that security precautions be taken before playtime begins. Although the bureau doesn’t identity specific risky products, it says that “these toys typically contain sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage components, and other multimedia capabilities — including speech recognition and GPS options. These features could put the privacy …

How to Spot Phishing Emails From ‘Trusted’ Businesses

Year-round, all kinds of phishing attempts lurk in your inbox — from promises of massive wealth from self-described Nigerian princes (or their representatives) to threats of arrest or loss of benefits from supposed employees of government agencies that, in reality, never correspond via email. But with the upcoming holiday shopping season — predicted to generate up to $682 billion in sales, including a record $107 billion in online purchases (14 percent higher than last year) — prepare for some of the …

Veterans: The Few, the Proud, the Scammed

This Veterans Day, there’s more reason to celebrate those who have served and sacrificed. In Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently sued two companies accused of bilking hundreds of older veterans into buying high-commission annuities and other often unwise retirement investments. In New Jersey, authorities busted those behind a $24 million “bait-and-switch” scam that swindled thousands of college degree-seeking veterans out of their G.I. Bill tuition benefits. And across the country, federal authorities are now investigating what they consider to …

Why You Can’t Trust Phone Calls You Think You Should Trust

“Call from 877-382-4357? Hang up,” warns the Federal Trade Commission. Seems that phone number — better known as 877-FTC-HELP, the agency’s go-to hotline to report scams — is another example in the never-ending plague of spoofing, the practice of deliberately displaying a false number (and sometimes name) on the recipient’s caller ID. The goal of scammers using this tried-and-true telephone trickery is to present a phone number that can be trusted, so recipients answer the phone. “Once you start talking,” …