Tag Archives: identity theft

Beware Scam Texts About Missing Packages

The uptick in online shopping hasn’t just been a boon for Amazon; criminals have seized the opportunity to turn a profit of their own. Over the past several weeks, people have received text messages asking them to reply with their credit card information as they have a package to claim.  

Nationwide, customers across cellphone carriers have received the same message: “[Name], we found a parcel from [a recent month] owed to you. Kindly assume ownership and confirm for delivery here.” The message contains a link that purportedly connects you with your missing package; however, it’s a phishing scam intended to capture your credit card information. 

Phishing is a fraudulent practice of reaching out to people online via email or messaging (usually pretending to be someone else) and luring them into downloading a file or clicking on an embedded link. 

Along with capturing personal information, scammers often drop malware on your device (software specifically designed to disrupt, damage, gain access to a computer system). There are dozens of kinds of malware, including adwareransomware, and spyware, that monitor and collect your online activity.   

Americans lose millions of dollars to scammers every year. They’ve figured out countless ways to cheat consumers via phone calls and text. Sometimes they pose as family members, employers, or even the IRS. Other times, they use fear or threats to push you into sharing personal information to commit identity theft in others.

Here are the red flags to look for when you receive a suspicious text or email that asks you to click on a link:   

  • Is the link in an unsolicited message?
  • Is the message urgent, misspelled, or asking for money or personal information?
  • Is the embedded URL different than the link shown?

If you click through to an embedded link that leads to a website that seems suspicious, don’t share personal information or download anything. Exit the website immediately and block the number on your phone. 

Remember, the IRS will never call to confirm personal information. You should never send cash or pay with a gift card as they are almost impossible to track, lowering your chance of recovering any losses. 

If you suspect you have been the victim of a scam, contact the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker. If you’ve lost money to a phone scam or have information about the company or scammer who called you, report it at ftc.gov/complaint.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Equifax Breach: You May Be Eligible for Compensation

By Tracey Dowdy

Over 147 million Americans were affected by the 2017 Equifax Data breach. If you are one of those millions – you can check here – you can now file a claim to recover money you spent or lost as a result. Additionally, as part of the settlement, you file to recover money you spent to protect yourself from identity theft and/or on credit monitoring following the breach.

The breach was a serious violation of user’s privacy with hackers exposing consumer’s personal information including their driver’s license information, social security numbers, and birthdates.

Back in July, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Equifax reached an agreement for Equifax to pay at least $575 million and up to $700 million for victims. Under the terms of the settlement, you can file a claim for compensation for costs incurred recovering from the security breach as well as any costs related to identity theft or freezing/unfreezing your account, and for any unauthorized charges to your banking accounts.  The one caveat for those filing for losses to be aware of is that the agreement caps payouts at $20,000 per person.

Victims also have the option of filing a claim to cover the expense of protecting yourself from identity theft following the breach. In fact, you can file multiple claims, and if you have already signed up for credit monitoring, you have the option of filing a claim for $125 in compensation instead.

Be aware the FTC has issued a warning cautioning victims to be aware of fake settlement websites created to dupe victims of the Equifax breach into revealing personal information like birthdates and social security numbers, ultimately victimizing them a second time. Jason Cipriani over at CNET has a great article on how to protect yourself.

To determine if you’re eligible under the terms of the settlement, follow these steps:

  • Start by going to the Equifax Data Breach Settlement page to find out if your information was impacted and if you are a class member.
  • Enter your last name the last six digits of your social security number.
  • You’ll immediately be told if your data was compromised and you’ll be directed to the Equifax Data Breach Settlement website to file a claim.
  • You have the option to file online or have a claim form mailed to you.
  • The final step is to determine which benefits you are eligible for by gathering documentation to support your claim. This includes any bank or credit card statements detailing unauthorized charges, any costs related to freezing/unfreezing your account, or payments made to lawyers or accountants to recover your losses.
  • If you signed up for a credit monitoring service as a result of the Equifax breach, you are eligible for a cash payment of $125. Note this is in addition – not in place of – filing for compensation for losses incurred.

For details or a full explanation of the settlement, go to the FTC’s Equifax Data Breach Settlement page here.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.