Blog topic: Avoid Scams

Secret Sister Gift Exchange – Don’t pay or yule be sorry

Have you already decked your halls in lights, timed to blink to the strains of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Even if you haven’t reached that level of early enthusiasm, the holiday spirit is starting to spread already. If you spend any time on social media, you may have seen posts about the Secret Sister Gift Exchange.

SSGE encourages you to mail a gift worth $10 dollars to a stranger at the top of the list. Supposedly, in return, you’ll get a pile of presents from other participants. SSGE and come-ons like it encourage you to hop on board an enticing cash- or gift-giving experience. Sounds like a good time, right? Sorry, Blitzen, stop that sleigh!

Gamers: Avoid the phishing hook

Did you ever get an email that seemed legit, but it asked you to click a link or give up some personal information? Well, if you play massive multiplayer online games, be warned: phishers are looking for ways to get those emails into your inbox.

Revenge of the nannies

Are you a nanny or caregiver who lists your services on sites like,, or A few months ago, we warned about a scam that targets caregivers like you. Here’s a reminder: a con artist emails or texts an offer to hire you. The scammer also sends you a check and asks you to depofakesit it, keep some money for your services, and send the rest to someone else to — supposedly — pay for special items or medical equipment. But the check is fake, and it can take weeks for a bank to discover the forgery. If you deposit the check and withdraw the funds, you’ll wind up owing the bank all that money.

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

Card cracking: Not what it’s cracked up to be

The scam is called card cracking and it may start off innocently enough. You see a post on a social media site announcing a contest. Or maybe a webpage that claims to have a celebrity affiliation is offering a gift card giveaway.

The variations are endless, but here’s the tip-off that fraud is afoot. At some point, you’re asked for your bank account information, PIN number, or online banking credential. That’s when you can bank on the fact that those “innocent” offers aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.

It’s criminal

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced the extradition of six Nigerian nationals from South Africa to Mississippi to face a nine-count federal indictment for various Internet frauds. These six people join 15 others who were previously charged with, among other things, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.

What were the scams? According to the indictment, the defendants found and reached out to their potential victims through online dating websites and work-at-home opportunities.

Faking it — scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money

Not everyone using online dating sites is looking for love. Scammers create fake online profiles using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They profess their love quickly. And they tug at your heartstrings with made-up stories about how they need money — for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel. Why all of the tricks? They’re looking to steal your money.

Image of cupid and heart

A Text Message Mess

Let me set the scene: your friend John is rushing to get his daughter from school and his son to the soccer field, and he still needs to stop at the grocery store because there’s nothing in the fridge. In the midst of this everyday madness, he gets a text message from Google with a verification code. He thinks, “That’s weird. Maybe I should log in to my email and see what’s going on.”

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

“Doom”ed false promises

Earn rewards for supporting a project you believe in? That’s what “crowdfunding” is all about.

Here’s how it works: “Creators” think of projects. To pay for those projects, they ask for small amounts of money from lots of people, usually through online platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Often, creators offer rewards to contributors. So far, so good … as long as the creators keep their end of the bargain.

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

Did you get a consumer complaint notification from the FTC? It’s a scam.

Thanks to emails and calls from people who sensed something wasn’t right, we’ve heard that an FTC imposter scam we’ve written about before is back.

The email tells you there’s a complaint against your business, and wants you to click on a link. Here’s what one of the scammy emails said:

Recovering from identity theft is easier with a plan

Hollywood might have you believe that identity theft means a dozen maxed out credit cards, a warrant for your arrest, and a bill for a spa appointment 2,000 miles away. But in real life, identity theft can be sneakier.

It might start with a small credit card charge you don’t recognize. Or a strange new account that shows up on your credit report. Or a letter from the IRS that says you already filed taxes this year. Only you didn’t.

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams