The Real Costs of Free-Cruise Scams

If a Caribbean cruise sounds tempting right about now, there’s an even more seductive lure: a “free” cruise. But before responding to winter-timed TV commercials, mailed postcards or unsolicited phone calls, consider the real costs of a “freebie” two-night Bahamas getaway, for example, pitched as a “special promotion” or “prize” for which you’re already eligible.   Your money. To reserve your cruise (or even to get information about it), you’re asked for your credit card information and immediately billed up …

New Utility Impostor Scams

No disrespect to Punxsutawney Phil, but here’s a more realistic winter forecast: When it’s cold outside, utility company impostors turn up the heat — angling for your money. The biggest scam is the longtime shutoff swindle, which is reaching record levels this season in some parts of the country. Posing as local utility company personnel, fraudsters call homeowners and small-business owners, claiming that their gas or electric account is delinquent and that service will be shut off within hours if …

Reduce Fraud Fallout Before and After a Wallet Goes Missing

Along with death and taxes, there’s a third certainty of life: At some point, your wallet will go AWOL. Whether it’s just temporarily missing under a seat cushion or swiped by a thief and never returned, prepare now because a lost or stolen wallet often results in identity theft. First things first: Reduce your risk by removing these items from your wallet: Your Social Security card. Unless you’re heading to an SSA office, leave it somewhere safer than in a …

How Target-Like Breaches Occur (P.S. More Are Expected)

Maybe you are among the 110 million Target shoppers whose payment card or personal information was hacked during the recent holiday shopping season. Perhaps you are one of the 1 million-plus Neiman Marcus customers whose data was exposed in a 2013 breach just recently announced. Been to Michael’s lately? The arts and crafts retailer is the latest well-known company whose customer payment details were reportedly stolen in the same type of data breach. How are con artists doing it – and which …

Hackers Steal Target Shoppers’ Credit, Debit Card Info

Hackers have stolen confidential data from as many as 40 million credit and debit cards that shoppers used at Target stores from the day before Thanksgiving until December 15. The data breach reportedly extends to nearly all of Target’s 1,797 stores nationwide and involves the hacking of machines at checkout lines on which customer swipe their cards when making purchases. So far, there’s no indication that payment data was stolen concerning online purchases from Target, the nation’s second-largest retailer. News of the …

Bogus Bank Calls Are Back

Don’t “bank” on the authenticity of phone calls or text messages that claim to be from your financial institution, warning that there’s a problem with your account, debit card or credit card. This old scam is back, with a new wave of these bogus bank alerts. In the past week, according to news reports, thousands of people have been targeted in at least five states – Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Missouri. But there could be many more. The scam works …