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Timeshare resale fail

 

If you’re thinking of selling a timeshare, the FTC cautions you to question resellers — real estate brokers and agents who specialize in reselling timeshares. They may claim that the market in your area is “hot” and that they’re overwhelmed with buyer requests. Some may even say that they have buyers ready to purchase your timeshare, or promise to sell your timeshare within a specific time. All they need is an upfront fee to get the ball rolling. Well, hold onto your money and read on.

Today, the FTC is charging the operators of a timeshare reselling scheme with bilking at least $15 million from timeshare owners by charging upfront fees of as much as $2,500 — or more — with promises they would rent or sell the properties. As time passed, the defendants would ask owners for more money, claiming the sale was about to take place and even characterizing the additional fees as closing costs. When the promises weren’t kept, consumer requests for refunds were routinely denied or ignored. Not anymore. At the FTC’s request, a federal court has temporarily halted the operation while the FTC seeks to permanently stop the illegal practices and get money back for consumers.   

If you own a timeshare, question any offers to help you resell it. Be skeptical of companies that:

  • claim the market in your area is “hot” and that they’re “overwhelmed” with buyer requests
  • say they have buyers ready to purchase your timeshare — or promise to sell your timeshare within a specific time        
  • guarantee you’ll get big returns on your resale
  • require you to pay fees upfront — even if there’s the promise of a “money-back guarantee”
  • don’t provide a contract — or provide a contract that doesn’t accurately reflect conversations you had

 

 

There’s an app for that (but it might be fake)

 

As more and more consumers are shopping with mobile apps, fraudsters are following the money. There are fake phone apps popping up that impersonate well-known retailers in order to steal your personal information. Their names are similar to well-known brands, and their descriptions promise enticing deals or features.

But these fraudulent apps can take your credit card or bank information. Some fake apps may even install malware onto your phone and demand money from you to unlock it.

Here are some tips to avoid downloading fraudulent apps:

  • Not sure if a shopping app is legit? Go directly to the retailer’s website and see if they promote it. If they do have an app, they will direct you to the app store where you can download it.
  • On the web, you can search a brand name, plus “fake app” to see if the company has reported its brand being spoofed.
  • Look for reviews of the app before you download – both in the app stores and on the web. If the app has no reviews, it was likely created recently, and could be a fake. Real apps for big retailers often have thousands of reviews.
  • Don’t download apps with misspelled words in their description. Many fake apps were created in a hurry. On the other hand, some fake apps look almost like the real thing.

If you’re using apps for shopping, keep records of your transactions. Screenshot or save the product description and price, the online receipt, and the emails you send and receive from the seller.

Monitor your credit card statements frequently; be on the lookout for charges that you don’t recognize.

 

 

Don’t let scammers take away your holiday cheer

 

You’ve got meals to plan and gifts to buy. The last thing you need is to lose money to a scam. Here are three ways to avoid giving your hard-earned money to a scammer this holiday season.

Know how NOT to pay.

Is someone asking you to pay with an iTunes or Amazon gift card? Or telling you to wire money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram? Don’t do it. Scammers ask you to pay in ways that let them get the money fast — and make it nearly impossible for you to get it back. If you’re doing any holiday shopping online, know that credit cards have a lot of fraud protection built in.

Spot imposters.

Imposters pretend to be someone you trust to convince you to send money or personal information. They might say you qualified for a free government grant, but you have to pay a fee to get it. Or they might send phishing emails that seem to be from your bank asking you to “verify” your credit card or checking account number. Don’t buy it. Learn more about spotting imposter scams.

Make sure your money goes to real charities.

As a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge shows us year after year, the holidays are an important time to share with people in need. Unfortunately, sometimes charity scammers try to take advantage of your good will. And even when you’re dealing with legitimate charities, it’s still important to make sure a charity will spend your donation the way you want it to. Always check out a charity before you give.

Want a bonus tip? Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams, and read 10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud.

If you spot a scam, report it at ftc.gov/complaint. Your reports help the FTC and other law enforcement investigate scams and bring the people behind them to justice.

 

IRS warns of a new tax bill scam

 

We certainly understand if the latest IRS imposter scam makes you queasy: it involves a fake IRS tax notice that claims you owe money as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

The IRS says the fake notices are designed to look like real IRS CP2000 notices, which the agency sends if information it receives about your income doesn’t match the information reported on your tax return. The IRS says many people have gotten the bogus notices, which usually claim you owe money for the previous tax year under the Affordable Care Act.

It’s one of many IRS imposter scams that have popped up. As tax season nears, we’ll see more. The good news? There are red-flag warnings that can help you avoid becoming a victim. For example, the IRS will never:

  • Initiate contact with you by email or through social media.
  • Ask you to pay using a gift card, pre-paid debit card, or wire transfer.
  • Request personal or financial information by email, texts, or social media.
  • Threaten to immediately have you arrested or deported for not paying.

In the new scam, the fake CP2000 notices often arrive as an attachment to an email — a red-flag — or by U.S. mail. Other telltale signs of this fraud:

  • There may be a “payment” link within the email. Scam emails can link you to sites that steal your personal information, take your money, or infect your computer with malware. Don’t click on the link.
  • The notices request that a check be made out to “I.R.S.” Real CP2000s ask taxpayers to make their checks out to “United States Treasury” if they agree they owe taxes.

In the version we saw, a payment voucher refers to letter number LTR0105C, and requests that checks be sent to the “Austin Processing Center” in Texas. But scammers are crafty. They could send messages with a variety of return addresses.

 

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REMEMBER: A PrimeSource Credit Union Employee will not call you and ask you to provide sensitive account verification information (we already have this information). If you have any doubt, DO NOT RESPOND and please call us directly for assistance at (509) 838-6157. 

 

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