Gift cards are a great way to give a gift. But did you know they are also a scammer’s favorite way to steal money? According to the FTC’s new Data Spotlight, more scammers are demanding payment with a gift card than ever before — a whopping 270 percent increase since 2015. — This article is from the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information blog. The author, Cristina Miranda, works in the FTC Division of Consumer and Business Education.
Many school forms require personal and sensitive information. Here are some tips for keeping your child’s personal information safe — from pre-school through college. — This article is from the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information blog. Colleen Tressler is a consumer education specialist with the FTC. The graphic illustration at the bottom is also from the FTC.
Here’s how a certain scam works that’s been offered to people in Darien, as described by a town police announcement on Thursday. Remember, you can’t lose if you don’t play:
The Darien Police Department would like to inform the public about a mail-scam that has been occurring in town. The potential victim is sent what appears to be documentation that they have won a substantial amount of money in the “Publishers Clearing House” sweepstakes. A check is included, and the recipient is instructed to contact the “claim manager” prior to cashing the check and warned not to contact anyone in regards to the prize. The amount the check is made out for is substantially higher than the amount the recipients are supposed to have won.
Police Chief Ray Osborne recently responded to questions from Darien Police Commission Chairman J. Paul Johnson about the pattern typically followed by thieves stealing from vehicles Darien drivers leave unlocked outside overnight. “We’ve had some success in making arrests,” Osborne said. “The Detective Division is working very hard on this latest rash, and we do have some viable leads on that. We’ll be following up as best we can.” “Do we have any idea whether this is a kind of planned group that is doing this, or just individuals?”
Scammers need a good story to get to your wallet. Once they find one that works, they use it again and again. One of their old favorites brings together fake checks and secret shopping, and we’ve been hearing a lot about it lately. Here’s how it starts. You get a check in the mail with a job offer as a secret shopper.
From 11:35 a.m. to 11:52 p.m., a thief removed two bicycles, both locked, from each of Darien’s two train stations, according to surveillance video records, police said. In those 17 minutes, the man stole property valued at a total of $1,400 by the separate owners. Darien police describe the thief as a stocky black male who was wearing a white tee shirt and blue jeans, and with a black backpack. At the Noroton Heights Station
At 7:46 p.m., a man told police that his wife left a bicycle valued at $900 at the station for him to use. She left it there at about 8:30 p.m., secured to a rack by a lock and chain, but it was gone when arrived at the station just before 7:46 p.m.
The surveillance video record indicated the man stole the bike at 11:35 a.m.
At the Darien Station
At 8:19 p.m., police received the second call from a man who said his bike was stolen at the Darien station, where he had left it at 5:30 a.m. and returned to find it missing at 7:30 p.m. He estimated the value of the bicycle at $500.
In the wake of a colossal wave of income tax refund fraud over the past several years, Connecticut Better Business Bureau, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services urge taxpayers to file their paperwork as soon as possible, and carefully select a qualified tax preparer. ___________
— an announcement from the Connecticut Better Business Bureau
Both of these measures can expedite processing of your refund and help protect your income tax return information. “Income tax season is stressful for many consumers, and that stress has been heightened by fears that criminals will file taxpayers’ returns and steal their refunds,” says Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz. “Income tax fraud is essentially an identity theft issue which often begins with a data breach. Even though taxpayers cannot prevent the theft of sensitive information by cyber hackers, there are steps we can take to lessen the chances of becoming a victim.”
The IRS is also warning tax preparers to be on guard against fake clients who attempt to get help with their tax returns, usually by sending an infected email attachment designed to burrow into computer systems housing clients’ personal information. The most effective ways to prevent criminal interception of tax documents and refunds are also the simplest. Returns can be submitted through the computerized eFile system, and refunds can be deposited directly into your bank account. An additional advantage is that these systems can avoid delays and shorten the amount of time it takes to process a return and issue a refund.