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,” …

How to Avoid Hotel ‘Resort Fee’ Rip-Offs

Although not new, hotel “resort fees” and surcharges are higher than ever — predicted to generate a record $2.7 billion this year — and now include previous freebies: parking, holding luggage, early cancellation or checkout, “restocking” of those already overpriced minibar snacks and beverages, and even the privilege of having (but not necessarily opening) a hotel room safe. Other charges include so-called resort fees for services and amenities offered by hotels, even when not used by individual guests: gyms, swimming …

New Rules for Password Protection

For more than a decade, we’ve been told to use “strong” passwords that combine upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. Not only must passwords be long and complex, the mantra went, but a different password was needed for each online account – changed to another unique (and mind-numbing) letters/numbers/symbols combination every 90 days or so. Now, the man who originally developed those password rules in 2003 as official guidance for government employees says you should forget all that. …

New Make-A-Wish Scam a Triple Threat That Swindled $20 Million Last Time

A new scam feigning the Make-A-Wish Foundation goes beyond just being despicable for exploiting the respected name of a national charity helping children with life-threatening medical conditions. It combines a trio of the most successful types of schemes – sweepstakes scams, charity scams, and government imposter scams – increasingly used by telephoning fraudsters, and mimics a near-identical ruse seven years ago that bilked older Americans out of $20 million. Scammers posing as employees of the Federal Trade Commission or non-existent …

What to Know About the Top Summer Scams

As temperatures rise, so do certain scams. Here’s how to avoid getting burned in summer’s most common cons. Home repairs Conning contractors typically come to your home unexpectedly, offering steep discounts on driveway resurfacing, roof work, tree trimming or other “necessary” repairs they happen to see while driving by or soliciting business door-to-door. Most seek an upfront payment to “go buy materials” and then disappear. Others do fast and faulty repairs (like spreading used motor oil to coat driveways) or …