Put the Bite on Zika Scams

With the start of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and peak mosquito season in much of the U.S., expect even more news about the Zika virus — ideal timing for frenzy-feeding fraudsters peddling scams such as: • Online offers for supposed miracle, dietary or natural products, or bogus personal-protection kits to prevent or cure Zika; • Emails with alarming messages touting must-read links that unleash computer viruses; • Investment opportunities from companies allegedly developing products to stop the spread …

iTunes Gift Cards the Latest Go-To Tool in Many Gotchas

The song remains the same: You owe back taxes and now face arrest or a lawsuit. Your grandkids are in trouble. Your computer has a dangerous virus. You owe a debt, missed mandatory jury duty or didn’t pay your utility bill. But there’s a new chorus in these and other scams: “Now pay me…with an iTunes gift card.” Why? Like other swindler-preferred payment methods (wire transfers and prepaid debit cards),  iTunes gift cards are a fast, easy and virtually untraceable …

Is Your Home Security System a Rip-Off Recruiter?

Statistically, your home is most likely to be burglarized between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. during July or August. The typical intruder is male, about 25 years old, and looking for cash and easy-to-carry (and sell) items such as jewelry, laptops, guns, cameras and small electronics. He’s also watching out for evidence of a home security system. In addition, there are con artists looking for front yard warning signs and other indicators that boast protection. Home security scammers, also now …

Prize Lies: How to Spot a Sweepstakes Scam

True, you can’t win if you don’t play. But here’s how you certainly lose by entering a scam sweepstakes or lottery. • You’re instructed to pay a fee or buy something to enter, improve your chances of winning, or claim an already “won” prize. You will not only lose that money (what you purchase may be junk merchandise), but you will also likely face an onslaught of additional requests for supposed taxes, shipping and handling charges, or processing fees — …

Protect Yourself and Your Dog From Pet Scams

Pet scams may not fetch the publicity of other schemes, but they certainly continue with dogged persistence. As hundreds of businesses and thousands of pet parents celebrate Take Your Dog to Work Day, check out these pet scams still in the works. Dognapping As the name implies, pets (usually dogs) are snatched from unattended backyards, cars or even while in the company of owners. Thieves then wait for a reward to claim for safely returning the pet, or they brazenly …

Students the Latest Target of IRS Scammers

College students and others who have student loans are the latest target of IRS impersonators. In this iteration of the ongoing, widespread scam, fraudsters threaten arrest and other penalties unless a nonexistent “federal student tax” is paid immediately. Sound familiar? For years, con artists posing as IRS agents have telephoned citizens, claiming they owe back taxes and making similar threats of impending arrest, deportation and seizure of property unless the alleged debt is paid immediately with untraceable prepaid debit cards …