Fake debt collectors impersonate real businesses

by Rosario Méndez

Fake debt collectors will say anything that will scare you into paying them. Today, the FTC stopped imposters who pretended to be lawyers. They threatened people with lawsuits and jail time to collect debts that didn’t exist.

These imposters often used the names of real small businesses or names that were very similar to those of existing businesses. When these real businesses started receiving calls from people trying to reach the “debt collectors” or complaining about abusive practices, they realized that their businesses’ name was being used in a scam. So they filed complaints with the FTC.

Fake debt collectors try many tricks to get you to pay. This advice will help you handle debt collectors’ calls:

  1. If a debt collector says you owe a debt, before you agree to pay anything ask for a validation notice that says how much money you owe. By law, they have to send you a validation notice in writing, within five days of contacting you. If they don’t, that’s a sign that you’re dealing with a fake debt collector.
  2. If a debt collector threatens you with jail time, hang up the phone. They’re violating the law and you should report them to us.
  3. If you own a small business, it might be a good idea to research online occasionally to check if anyone else is using your business’ name. And if you start receiving complaints about practices that your business is not engaged in, let us know.

Report: Click Here

Encryption here, encryption there, encryption

Data encryption is no longer a complicated thing to do, accessible only to top experts.

Nowadays there are plenty of tools that are easy to use (and sometimes even free), tools that will help you encrypt your sensitive data.

By doing this, you ensure that your valuable information will remain safe and hidden from malicious eyes. That means no cyber attacker will peek through your private conversations or files or any other important data.

If you have the latest versions of iOS and Android, encryption is easy-peasy, as it’s enabled by default (and you should leave it like that).

Virtual machines – why and how to start using them

Here’s a PRO tip: run the internet services in a virtual machine.

A virtual machine is a separate, software-based computer that’s contained within your physical computer.

It will run an operating system and apps within your real computer.

Using a virtual machine to run your browsers and email client will isolate you from all the cyber threats out there.

In case you end up infected with malware, it will keep you protected and help control the damage.

A virtual machine is also great if you want to test another operating system within your actual one.

Be careful with those mobile apps

Only download and install mobile apps that you can find in the official app stores.

Make sure that the option to allow installation of third party apps is disabled. That means no apps from your online buddies, ads, blogs or torrents. Those usually carry malware that will harm your smartphone.

However, this doesn’t mean that an app or game from the official store is 100% secure – sometimes, even popular apps, with more than 5 million downloads, can prove to be infected.

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Create multiple email accounts

Create completely separate email accounts with different purposes.

  • One email account to subscribe to newsletters and shopping deals
  • Another one for online accounts, such as your Facebook or Uber
  • Different email accounts for work and personal conversations

It might seem like a hassle, to create and manage all those accounts, but it’s worth it. And it will also help reduce the chances to receive spam on your important emails.

The cluelessness of identity theft victims

Identity theft is the illegal use of someone’s personal information.

It’s when a malicious hacker steals your data and starts making financial operations in your name.

They open bank accounts, take out loans, ruin your credit cards’ ratings, and many others.

Besides the financial loss, there may also be additional consequences. You can even realize one day that you are held responsible for criminal actions that you had nothing to do with.

And wanna hear what the worst part is?

Most of the identity theft victims are usually clueless.

They have no idea what’s happening to them.
Recent statistics show that:

  • almost 70% of the victims don’t know how the thief got their information;
  • 92% don’t even know anything about the individual (or group) that stole from them.

Scams in the name of charity

Scammers are creative, cunning and cruel — and they often mix in a little truth to spice up their big lies. This scheme shows just how low they can go.

Government imposters claiming to be with the FTC, or another agency like the fictitious “Consumer Protection Agency,” are calling to inform people they have won a huge sweepstakes from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a well-known charity for very sick children. To get the money, the callers say, the “winner” must first pay thousands of dollars to cover taxes or insurance on the prize. The call may even come from a 202 (Washington, DC) area code to appear credible — since the headquarters for the FTC and most federal agencies are in DC.

This is just a scheme using the well-known names of Make-a-Wish and the FTC to rob thousands of dollars from people. Once you wire money or send banking information, you will never see your money again.

Here are a few facts and tips to protect yourself and others:

  • If someone asks you to wire money or provide your bank account information over the telephone, it’s a scam.
  • Anytime you have to pay to get a prize, it’s a scam.
  • The FTC doesn’t oversee sweepstakes and no FTC staff is involved in giving out sweepstakes prizes. We do, however, go after sweepstakes scams like this one.
  • If an FTC case results in refunds, you can find the details at ftc.gov/redress.
  • The Make-a-Wish Foundation has information about this specific scam on its fraud alerts page.
  • If you encounter this or other scams, report it to the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP or ftc.gov/complaint.
  • Talk to your friends and family about scams. Visit FTC.gov/PassItOn to find out how.

Link: Report

Remove past geo-tags from your social accounts

In one of our recent tips we approached the dangers of real time check ins on social network.

If it’s too late for that and you already have tons of check ins from your home, you also have the option to delete previous history location.

In Facebook you’ll have to do that manually for all the photos you uploaded and turn off Location for future posts.

In Instagram, you can Remove Geo-tag for all your uploaded pics.

Keep those browsers up to date

Browsers are one of the most common security holes, if you don’t keep them up to date. And the same goes for the add-ons and plugins you installed.

Cyber crooks frequently scan websites and PCs for vulnerabilities, such as outdated software. They use those backdoors to penetrate your systems and infect you with malware.

Keep those browsers updated. If you have browsers plugins, go to their settings and choose either to “Ask to activate” or even to “Never activate”.