Behind the Numbers: Consumers Report a New Top Gripe

Despite a 47 percent increase in complaints from the previous year, identity theft wasn’t the nation’s top consumer complaint in 2015 — for the first time in 16 years, according to an annual review by the Federal Trade Commission. That dubious distinction goes to abusive debt collectors, according to the FTC’s latest Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. But it’s no simple apples-to-apples comparison: With 897,655 complaints, debt collectors tallied 29 percent of all reports “due in large part to a …

Coupon Scams: Don’t Get Clipped

Maybe you saw that recent Facebook post promising a free $200 Nordstrom gift card. Or perhaps it was that $100 coupon for Lowe’s, which just resurfaced after a similar “campaign” last spring, or the latest coupon on social media, touting a free Disneyland vacation for four. Like umpteen others that come and go, each of these recent frauds was part of at least 300 billion fake coupon offers annually that aim to pinch those who are trying to pinch pennies. (Just …

New Twist to the Tech Support Scam

After seven long years, the tech support scam continues as a reigning rip-off, generating more reports nationwide to the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline (877-908-3360) than any scheme except the IRS impostor ruse. Microsoft estimates that another 3.3 million Americans will fall victim in 2015, losing an estimated $1.5 billion to fraudsters posing as its or other tech company employees. The typical scenario is scary enough: Callers (sometimes from overseas boiler rooms) claim that your computer is infected with a dangerous …

Cyber Aware? Know the Top Internet Scams

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and no doubt you’re fully aware of what happened to Target, Home Depot and scores of other companies that were victims of cyber attacks. Those big-brand data breaches certainly make news. But what really hits home? The cyber scams that don’t generate headlines yet result in the most reports and complaints to the National Consumers League and other watchdog groups. So along with the often-preached mantras that warrant repeating this month — use …

Thumbs-Down: The Facebook ‘Dislike’ Scam

You may like the news that Facebook is working on a much-anticipated “Dislike” button. But don’t be too eager to test it out. On Facebook news feeds, there are posts claiming that you can get early installation of a Dislike button on your profile. Don’t believe it. If you click on the link, you’ll be directed to “intrusive surveys in an attempt to gather your personal information as well as asking for your account credentials,” reports Hackread.com, which broke the …

New Chip Cards, Same Old Scam Emails

En español | If you haven’t already received your new EMV “smart chip” credit card(s), you soon will. What else can you expect, even if you were previously sent the new plastic? Expect bogus emails allegedly sent by card issuers, PayPal or other businesses that supposedly provide details about your account with more secure, chip-imbedded cards. It’s a new incentive for old tricks to install computer malware and/or phish for account information and log-in credentials. Why now? Oct. 1 is …