Category Archives: Scams

The Technology Blog

Multi-Level Marketing Work From Home Jobs

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Multi-Level Marketing Work From Home Jobs

Last week we talked about Work From Home Job Scams – how to spot and avoid them so you can have success in your job search. There are many employment options that provide the ability to work from home, but we did leave one type of home employment out. We think it deserves its own post.

These work from home jobs are seemingly perfect! They offer all the best advantages; the ability to create your own flexible schedule, the promise of unlimited monthly income, and a clear action plan provided by the company. You’re able to change your life as an independent sales representative for reputable multi-level marketing (MLM) company.

We’ve heard the sales pitch from a family member, friend, co-worker, or even a random stranger at the gym. They’ve got a life-changing, one-of-a-kind product that we’ve got to try! And, if we like it, they can tell us how to make money selling it…

 

Multi-Level-Marketing-Work-From-Home-Jobs

Multi-Level Marketing Work From Home Jobs

Legitimate Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Companies vs. Pyramid Schemes

Though some people may argue it, not all multi-level marketing companies are pyramid schemes. But, before you join up with Mary Kay, Herbalife, Beautycounter or any of the other MLM companies out there, know what you’re getting into. To be successful in any venture takes hard work and dedication. Any company promising thousands of dollars for little or no work is making empty promises.

 

  • Normal Distribution – In normal distribution products come from a manufacturer and are handled and sold on by wholesalers and distributors to retailers and finally to consumers. Consumers purchase the products based on value and money moves up the line back to the manufacturer.

 

Manufacturer → Wholesaler → Distributor → Retailer → Consumer← Money ← → Value →

  • Legit MLM Distribution – The MLM distribution model takes out the “middle-man” in the distribution chain. There is a manufacturer with a product and a MLM company creates a direct-sales model to get that product to consumers. In the model, money flows up the line to the manufacturer and value is passed down the line to the consumer.

Manufacturer → MLM Co. → Upper Level → Mid. Level → Newest → Consumers← Money ← → Value →

 

  • Pyramid Schemes – Pyramid schemes use the MLM model to dupe unsuspecting people and investors. They have all the levels of distribution, the promise of success, a great product that’s easy to get behind, and a clear strategy for their independent sales representatives. But the big problem is that there is no value coming down the line to the consumer. There is either a product consumers don’t buy or no product at all. It’s a model that depends on people buying the product themselves and developing their “down-line” or getting new people to buy-in and become members.

CEO or Board → Upper Level → Mid. Level → Newest → Newest → Consumers?← Money ← Money ← Money ← → Value? →

How To Spot A Pyramid Scheme

  • The best way to spot a pyramid scheme is to trust your gut. “Too good to be true” promises, results, or products should be a dead give away. Some products are better than others, but results that border on the miraculous…I don’t think so.
  • Do your research. There are great resources out there to check out business, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Direct Selling Association (DSA), and numerous articles like this blog about MLM companies.
  • What percentage of their product sales are from non-member customers buying and reordering product? A life in sales is hard when customers aren’t buying the product and repeat customers are rare.
  • What percent of the company’s sales are to non-member customers? If the only people buying are people who are supposed to be selling it, you know you’ll truly be “spending money to make money.”

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Work From Home Job Scams

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Work From Home Job Scams

So you want to work from home. The thought of working full or part-time from home is appealing to many of us: not having to rush out the door to beat traffic, no need to take a vacation day when the kids have a snow day or are home from school, the ability to make work fit your schedule, or maybe it’s for extra money to pay off debts or save for vacation. Whatever the motivation to work from home, there are many great opportunities in today’s job market. Knowing which opportunities are legitimate and which are scams can be tricky to navigate.

Work-From-Home-Job-Scams

Work From Home Job Scams

Working From Home

With better technology, time tracking apps, and online capabilities more employers are offering work from home positions than ever before. It not only helps attract younger people to their company, but it also cuts down on their expenses (if your employees work from home you don’t need a big fancy office). Some employers are even offering incentive programs where employees earn days to work from home.

There’s also secret shopping, editing, product reviewing, blogging and countless other opportunities to work from home that don’t have the “corporate” structure so many of us are accustomed to. You know people work from home. You know people are successful that work from home. How do you make that your reality? How do you find that perfect work from home job?

Search: Work From Home Job

There isn’t a magic strategy to finding a work from home job. It takes research, planning, and patience. The typical job search, application and interview process applies to work from home jobs. However, scammers have targeted the work from home job seeker because most people are looking for a flexible second-income or aren’t able to commit to a set job schedule (think stay-at-home-moms) and they don’t have the experience or knowledge to navigate the work from home job search. Work from home job seekers typically fall prey to scammers and fraudsters because they don’t know how to spot the scam.

4 Ways to Spot Work From Home Job Scams

  • Pay to Work – Scammers and fraudsters set up fraudulent company websites offering opportunities to work from home where all you have to do is set up a profile and pay a fee to be a part of the organization. You set up a profile and pay the fee, but nothing comes from it except additional attempts to scam you. This scam is often seen with Secret or Mystery Shopper positions. If you’re looking for an opportunity in this field check out the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) to find legitimate businesses and employment opportunities.
  • Asking for Personally Identifiable Information – You’re prompted to enter personally identifiable information (such as your social security number) on the initial job application or during account creation. Reputable and legitimate employers only ask for this type of information after a successful application and interview processes and an offer of employment is contingent upon a successful background check
  • Perform a Test Service – Scammers will ask you ask you to perform a simple task to under the guise of determining suitability and if you like the type of work required. In the most common scam, fraudsters send you a check and ask you to deposit it into your personal checking account and then perform a simple wire transfer. If the check is for $350 they instruct you to wire $200 and you keep the $150. The catch is you have to deposit the check and do the wire transfer on the same day. Unfortunately, the check is fake and now your on the hook for everything.
  • Too Good To Be True Offer – We’ve all seen and heard the ads “make thousands of dollars a month and never leave your home!” These ads are designed to reel us in, but there is always a catch. Ignore these and keep searching, the perfect job is out there!

Searching and applying for jobs is stressful. Don’t let that stress turn to panic by falling for cyber fraud and scams. Take your time, research the companies you’re applying to, and protect yourself.

 

Time To Upgrade Your Wallet

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Time To Upgrade Your Wallet

We’ve all seen the commercials of people zooming through the checkout line with a simple “tap” of their credit card. You don’t have time to waste with swiping, inserting, and pin numbers. A simple “tap” and you’re on your way. It may make your shopping experience a breeze, but like all new banking technology scammers have found a way to exploit it.

How-To-Protect-Your-Identity & Credit Card

How To Protect Your Identity & Credit Card

The Traditional Pickpocket

In the 2015 film, Focus, there’s a great scene that shows a team of pickpockets easily separating people from their possessions. When we think of a “pickpocket” we probably think of some slight-of-hand work, misdirection, or an impish character straight out of a Charles Dickens novel. In today’s tech-savvy age, pickpockets don’t need any of these refined skills. All they need is a high-tech radio scanner and to be close enough to you to pick up the radio frequency emitted by your “tap and go” credit card. The technology of “tap and go” credit cards is known as Radio Frequency Identification Detection or RFID.  

How Radio Scanner Pickpocketing Works

It’s really quite simple and almost undetectable when it happens, making it a low-risk operation for a criminal. Your “tap and go” credit card emits a radio frequency that communicates your card information, this is how your card information passes to the credit card reader at the store. What criminals have discovered is that by using a radio frequency scanner they can steal your credit card information; card number, expiration date, security code, and the name on the card. All they have to do is have the scanner hidden on their person and get close enough for the scanner to pick up the frequency of the card.

How To Protect Your Identity & Credit Card

If you’ve ever read a travel guide book, one of the top ways they give for avoiding pickpockets is to conceal your documents, cash and checks in a travel belt wallet that can be hidden inside your shirt or pants. Essentially, it’s the same concept when it comes to protecting your identity and “tap and go” credit card from electronic pickpockets. There are several brands and styles of RFID blockers including wallets, purses and individual holders. Simply keep your “tap and go” credit in a RFID blocking case and criminals will not be able to electronically pickpocket you.

Not sure if your card is RFID enabled? The next time you’re in a store that is set up for “tap and go”, give it a try, but tP4he best way to be sure is to call your credit card company or bank and to ask.  

Vishing Scams

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Vishing Scams

There are so many different types of cyber-scams out there. Over the last few months we’ve made it our mission to keep you safe by providing you with tips on avoiding cyber threats. This week, we continue our mission with the subject of Vishing Scams.

How-To-Avoid-Vishing-Scams

Vishing Scams

What Are Vishing Scams

Vishing (voice-phishing) scams or phone fraud scams are a very common form of fraud and identity theft. Vishing is low-tech, but it is one of the most successful types of scams because it targets the weakest link in the IT and cyber security chain – the human element. The scam doesn’t depend on sophisticated malware, but rather advanced social engineering tactics. Criminals and fraudsters use vishing scams to target individuals or businesses in order to obtain personally identifiable information, fraudulent payments, or other information that can be sold or used to commit other crimes.

Vishing Scams On Individuals

When targeting individuals through a vishing scam, scammers impersonate a representative of a business such as a bank, the police, or insurance company. They typically use information they obtained from a previous data breach so that they have just enough information about you to make the phone call seem legitimate. For example, the fraudster impersonates a representative from your bank. They call and tell you they just need to verify some information because they noticed irregular transactions. They then tell you a list of fake purchases and ask if it’s you. When you say “no” they ask you to confirm your account info so they can decline the transactions and just like that they have access to your bank accounts. The fraudster has used your fear of identity theft to commit identity theft against you.

The best way to protect yourself from Vishing Scams is to ask the caller to provide company info, their name and title, case number, and telephone number. After you have the caller’s information, hang up and confirm the information provided. Call back only if everything checks out.

Vishing Scams On Businesses

When scammers target a business using a vishing scam, they typically assume the identity of an account holder with the purpose of gaining access to the individual’s account. The account holder information has usually been obtained through identity theft or a previous data breach. Using their social engineering skills, the scammer calls the business and provides a believable backstory and gains access to the account. For example, they might tell the customer service representative that either they were recently in a car accident, their apartment or home was broken into or that they experienced a birth or death in the family and that they can’t remember their password or login info. Whatever the story, it will be emotionally charged and designed to create sympathy so that the representative doesn’t follow company policy. Next thing you know, the business representative has given temporary login information to a fraudster and criminal. In this case, the fraudster has used a sympathy play to get an employee to ignore company policy and procedures putting the account holder and the business at risk.

For businesses, no matter what size, the human element of IT and cyber security is one of the most critical. Most scams, from BEC Scams to Phishing Scams, are successful due to human error. Making sure your employees have the proper training and are fully aware of company policy and procedures are just as important as keeping your IT systems up to date and secure.

Protect your business with proven IT solutions. We provide system analysis, employee training, and Managed IT Services. Contact us to schedule a No-Cost Network Audit today!       

CEO Fraud Scams And Why They Are Successful

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CEO Fraud Scams And Why They Are Successful

Everyone want to keep the boss happy. Staying in their good-graces means promotions, job security and, usually, a stress-free work environment. When an email comes through from the boss marked “Urgent” our hearts race and we play through different scenarios before we even read it. Turns out they’re extremely busy and need our help getting something done. Perfect, a chance to prove how valuable we are! In today’s world of sophisticated cyber fraud this scenario is ending poorly for more and more businesses.

CEO-Fraud-Scams-And-Why-They-Are-Successful

CEO Fraud Scams And Why They Are Successful

Why CEO Fraud Scams Are So Successful

CEO Fraud Scams, also known as CFO Fraud Scams or Business Email Compromise Scams (or BEC), are a type of cyber phishing scam performed by sophisticated cyber criminals that are skilled in social engineering tactics. Just two months ago, November of 2018, it was reported that the European cinema chain Pathé had fallen victim to a BEC scam that cost them over 19 million euros! That’s roughly $21.5 million U.S.! In the case of Pathé, cyber criminals impersonated company headquarter officials and convinced the CEO and CFO of their Dutch branch to transfer the funds over a series of money transfers. You may be asking yourself, how could business or upper management fall for such a scam? Well, the cyber criminals had done their research and had even created emails that almost exactly resembled the official Pathé domain. And, they did they used social engineering and convinced the Dutch branch CEO and CFO that the funds were for a confidential acquisition and that they couldn’t discuss the transfer with anybody in the company.

This is an extreme example of a CEO Fraud or BEC scam, but it shows the extent to which fraudsters and cyber criminals will go and the tactics they use to get at your business. Cyber criminals research, plan, impersonate upper-level management.

Don’t Become A Victim of CEO Fraud Scams

With over $12 billion dollars (FBI global estimate), odds are you and your business will be the target of a BEC scam. Protecting your business is a must! Developing IT security strategies for business is our specialty. Contact Us discuss implementing a plan to protect your business from advanced cyber security threats.

How To Avoid Fake Warrant Scams

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There’s A Warrant For Your Arrest!

The other day I received a call from an unknown number and let it go to voicemail. With all the political and scam phone calls lately it’s become my standard practice. It’s easier to listen to the voicemail. This time, however, the voicemail was quite disturbing and left me calling my local sheriff’s office. The caller claimed to be with my local sheriff’s department and that there was a warrant for my arrest! Luckily, after calling my local sheriff’s office, it turned out to be a malicious scam.

How-To-Avoid-Fake-Warrant-Scams

How To Avoid Fake Warrant Scams

How The Warrant Scam Works

Sadly, these types of threatening phone call scams are becoming everyday occurrences. What’s even worse about Warrant Scams is that scammers and criminals typically target specific groups of individuals: the elderly, recent immigrants, people whose second language is English, and persons with past convictions.

The caller identifies themself as someone with your local sheriff’s office or police department. They may have a false badge number or other fake info to make it sound official. They then tell you that they are calling you because there is a warrant for your arrest due to a minor charge such as missing a Jury Duty summons. Now that they have you legitimately worried, they will tell you they are authorized to handle the matter in two ways, “Criminally” and “Civilly.” “Criminally” means they will come and arrest you at your home or workplace, which no one wants. “Civilly” means they will forego criminal charges if you pay a fine. Now that they’ve fooled you, they ask you to purchase a prepaid debit card and provide you with a number to call back in order to process your payment.

How To Avoid Fake Warrant Scams

The best way to avoid warrant scams and to not be a victim of scammers is to know that Sheriff’s Offices, Police Departments and Law Enforcement Agencies will not ask or demand payments to avoid arrest! If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be with law enforcement demanding payment get as much information from the caller then call your local police department or sheriff’s office it report it or simply hang up!

Remember, scammers are criminals. Even if they know you are on to them, they will use intimidation tactics to get you to comply or give them your personal information. When receiving any unsolicited phone call, if you are suspicious of the caller in anyway, hang up and call the business, banking institution or law enforcement agency directly. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Cardless ATM Banking Scam

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Cardless ATM Banking Scam

During the holiday shopping season we’re thinking about finding the perfect gift. When we do find the perfect gift for that special someone, whether online or in a store, we don’t need the experience ruined by our credit or debit card not working. Scammers and fraudsters know it too and they’re not taking the holiday season off!

Cardless-ATM-Banking-Scam

Cardless ATM Banking Scam

Scammers Use Fake Mobile Banking Alerts

Many of us, myself included, use mobile banking apps to quickly, easily and safely access our banking account information. So what do you do when you get a text or email saying your account has been “locked” with instructions to “unlock” it? Scammers are using this type of banking alert scam to rob unsuspecting victims at an alarming rate. So, before you begin to panic, take a deep breath and call your bank or credit union directly. Don’t use the number provided or click on any links in the text or email!

How Banking Scams Work

The first step the scammer takes is to convince you that your account is locked with an official looking text or email. Once you take the bait, they ask you to confirm your bank account and debit card information either on a fraudulent site (a website that they have created and appears to be your banks official site) or over the phone with a number they provide you. They ask you to confirm your card numbers, account numbers, passwords, PIN numbers, security questions and your personally identifiable information. After they have all your information they use it to withdraw money from Cardless ATMs. In some cases completely draining your accounts!

What Are Cardless ATMs?

Like the name implies, Cardless ATMs are ATMs that don’t require the user to use their debit or credit card to access their account and withdraw money. They aren’t common throughout the United States, but most larger banks and financial institutions are using them in more and more locations. While they are secure, no financial institution would knowingly use a risky device, scammers will always find a way to exploit new technology.

Avoiding Bank Scams

The best way to avoid these types of scams is to know what your bank or financial institution’s policies are. Know why your account would be locked, i.e. too many failed login attempts or suspicious account activity, and how they go about contacting you. If you do receive an email, text or phone call from someone claiming to be from your bank hang up or ignore it, then contact your bank directly.

Finding The Best Tech Support For Your Small Business

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Finding The Best Tech Support For Your Small Business

Business of all sizes use devices of all types to run and operate. From accounting and payroll to invoicing and selling products online, in today’s fast paced world if you don’t run your business online you’re behind the times. Unfortunately, with so many things for business owners to focus on, IT and tech support often go overlooked.  

Finding-The-Best-Tech-Support-For-Your-Small-Business

Finding The Best Tech Support For Your Small Business

Why IT & Tech Support Are Important

You’re running your business, you don’t have time to think about tech support. But what happens when computer issues occur and your ability to conduct business comes to a grinding halt? You do an internet search for IT support to get your computer issues resolved and hope your back to focusing on the important aspects of running your business. You want your problems fixed and fixed fast. Hackers and scammers know it too and it’s why every year small businesses fall prey to a wide array of scams.  

Tech Support Scams

There are some of the common ways that scammers try and take advantage of small businesses.

  1. One way that cyber criminals target small businesses is by setting up fake tech support companies. The scammer then takes out an add so when you search for a tech support company, their “tech support” webpage shows up near the top of the results. When you contact them they request access to your computer and a fee for their services. After taking your money, they may fix the problem, but they also access your business info.
  2. Scammers use popups saying that your computer or device has been infected by a virus. Usually they claim to be from a trusted IT security company or computer company. They provide a phone number for you to call in hopes that you fall for the scam and give them access to your computer.
  3. Scammers will also use old fashioned cold-calling claiming to be representatives from a tech support company. They tell you your computer has been affected by malware or a virus and that they can remove it for a small fee. 

Find A Trusted Local Tech Support Company

Many small business believe that they either don’t need tech support or that it will be too expensive. If you have company information stored on a computer or do online transactions, you need to protect your business. The best place to look for tech support is from a trusted local company. Local tech support companies typically offer a variety of options and will know which is best for your business needs. It’s not a question of IF computer issues will occur, but WHEN computer issues occur. Don’t wait, contact Pros 4 Technology today to discuss your business’ cyber security.

iTunes Gift Card Scams

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A Warning About iTunes Gift Card Scams

The most important thing for you to learn from this week’s blog post is this: Apple support personnel will never ask you to pay for anything using a gift card! Now here’s why.

iTunes-Gift-Card-Scams

iTunes Gift Card Scams

How Gift Card Scams Work

The Set Up: You’re busy Tweeting, Snapping, texting emojis or binging your favorite show on Hulu when it all comes to a crashing halt! Your internet freezes. Before you can even bring up Settings you receive a text from someone claiming to be with Apple support. The text conversation may go something like this.
Scam Text: Hello, I’m from Apple Support. There is an issue with your phone’s ability to connect to the internet. Call Apple Support to get the issue resolved.
Your Text: Thank you, I am having issues. I’ll call right away.
Scam Text: Glad I can help. My direct line is 1-800-555-1234.
Little do you know that it’s the scammer that has managed to freeze your phone and is now hijacking it to rob you of money.

The Scam: You call the 800 number and everything seems legit. The scammer is friendly and acts like they’re looking into things. They tell you they’ve found the issue and you can purchase something to fix the issue. They may say it’s an upgrade, downloadable software or that your account has an outstanding balance. Next, the scammer tells you how much it will cost and that you’ll need to use iTunes gift cards for payment and to call back once you’ve purchased the gift cards. You run to the nearest store, buy the iTunes gift cards and call back. The scammer has you read the gift cards numbers and says they will be processing processing your payment and fixing the issue.

One of two things happen after the scammer has removed the funds from the gift cards:
The scammer ends the phone call and it’s not until later when the issue is unresolved that you discovered you were scammed
After “running” your payment, the scammer tells you the issue is still unresolved and you’ll need to purchase something else to fix it hoping you’ll buy more gift cards.

Spot & Stop The Scam

The most important thing to spot the scam is to remember that Apple support personnel will never ask you to buy anything with a gift card! The second most important thing is to keep your phone up to date with updates. Apple has regular updates for all their products that help protect them from scammers and hackers’ attempts to gain control of your phone.

Threatening Voicemail Scams

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Threatening Voicemail Scams

Let’s be honest, when we get a call from an unknown number we let it go to voicemail. We throw proper phone etiquette out the window when it comes to unknown callers. We wait and check the voicemail. We check the voicemail and discover we’re in trouble.

Threatening-Voicemail-Scams

Threatening Voicemail Scams

A Threatening Message

Law enforcement agencies have seen a growing number of reports of phone calls and voicemails that threaten people with legal action. In some cases people are reporting multiple phone calls a day! The voicemail or automated message usually goes something like this:

“We are contacting you in regards to the allegations brought against you. You have not responded to our efforts to contact you. To avoid the matter being brought to local law enforcement, please contact us at xxx-xxx-xxxx.”

Sometimes the message also includes the name of a law firm (which may or may not be legitimate), the first name of the person to contact and a local number for you to call, making them sound even more legit. When you call the number provided the scammer uses threatening language and intimidation to get you to give your personal information or bank account info to them.

What To Do After Receiving A Threatening Voicemail

The first thing to do is to STOP. Do not call that number. If there were serious allegations against you, you wouldn’t be alerted to them over the phone through an automated message!  The criminal is trying to scare you in hopes of getting your personal information. The second thing to do is report the phone number to the Federal Trade Commission. When you report the phone numbers you’re helping protect others.