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 …

It’s Moving Season! 8 Tips to Prevent Relocation Rip-Offs

With two-thirds of relocations occurring between now and the end of August, summer is peak moving season — and prime time for a type of strong-arming that’s more about tricky tactics than the size of a hired hauler’s biceps. The scam starts with an initial reasonable (if not lowball) estimate by a mover, complete with “in good hands” assurances. But after the truck is loaded, the quoted price jumps sky-high, and your belongings may be held hostage until you pay …

How, Why and When to Get a Security Freeze

Placing a security freeze on your credit file has always been a smart move. But these days, it makes more sense than ever. That’s because identity thieves have switched tactics — focusing on opening new fraudulent credit accounts rather than exploiting existing ones. In its 2016 Identity Fraud Study, Javelin Strategy & Research reports that with the switch to chip-enabled cards, fraud involving new accounts more than doubled in 2015 from the previous year. Meanwhile, some 180 million personal records …