IRS Phone Scam

Lately I have been getting an increased number of IRS Phone Scams. As I mentioned in previous posts the IRS first sends out a letter if there is an issue with your taxes. You can contact the IRS directly to determine if there is an issue with your taxes.  Here is the video from the IRS that discusses these scams:

Here is a video by the Victoria Police Department where they talk to the actual scammers (warning about the language):

Some of the things you can do:

  • Don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number.
  • Hang up immediately.
  • You can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and the FTC
  • If they send an email: do not reply, do not open attachments, do not click on any link inside the email. You can forward the full email with headers to: phishing@irs.gov.

 


Links:

Lottery

Once again one the Powerball jackpot prize is over $400 million. I’ve noticed that with the higher jackpots two things seem to happen:

  1. More advertisements on TV and radio.
  2. More scams and people trying to sell their “lottery winning systems.”

Here are a few tips to avoid the scams:

  • In order to win a lottery you first have to enter that lottery.
  • Any lottery with an anonymous entry system (like the multi-state ones) won’t have your name and address until you give it to them. You have to go to their offices with your signed winning lottery ticket.
  • When a lottery prize is this large buy the ticket yourself.
  • Don’t waste your money on “lottery winning systems”. Search online for tips. If the person wrote a book, wait until it gets to the library. Or read through the online reviews.

Remember that unlike Poker, BlackJack, or other skill based games; the lottery is based on chance. There is a chance that the numbers on the ticket will match the numbers randomly drawn. The current odds of winning the game are 1 in 292 million. Put another way the odds of winning are: 1/292,000,000 or 3.424e-9 or 0.000000003424%. No matter what “system” is used those are still the odds of one set of numbers winning.

Have you bought a Powerball ticket?

Would you trust someone else to buy and hold the ticket?

 

 

Link:

Board Game (https://roseylinn.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/board-game/)

Lottery Jackpot (https://roseylinn.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/lottery-jackpot/)

Microsoft Scams

In the past few days I have received an increase in these Microsoft Scam phone calls. Again the best thing to do is not answer the phone. The second best is to just hang up on them.

Roseylinns Reflections

With the release of Windows 10 there has been an increase in Windows Scams.  There is a new email scam going around to and the Microsoft Call Center scam calls have increased.  I have noticed that since the release I have gotten two phone calls from the “Microsoft Call Center” in a short time.  Also in the news recently there was an alert about a bogus email claiming that Microsoft was upgrading users to Windows 10 via email.  Anyone who does click on the link in the email can find their computers taken over by the scammers and will be forced to pay a ransom to get it released back to them.

On August 16, 2015 I got another one of those Microsoft Call Center Scam phone calls.  It came in at 9:14 P.M. my time, which puts it 14 minutes outside the allowed call time mandated by the FTC.  The…

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Business Opportunities

There are busines opportunities around every corner.  The legitimate ones follow:

  • The FTC Business Opportunity Rules:
    • Provide 7 days in advance of signing contracts, making payments, etc. a Business Opportunity Disclosure Document.
    • If any claims about how much money a person could earn; or examples of how much money others have earned are made; or implied, include an Earnings Claim Statement.  It is illegal to make a claim about earnings without having backup materials to substantiate the claim.  It is also illegal to not provide them when requested.
    • Avoid all illegal practices
    • Keep records for three years
    • Here is a video by the FTC that goes over the Business Opportunity Rules:

However not all business opportunities follow the rules of the road.  I’ve run across some recently that have employed the standard tricks and some new ones.  They use things like high pressure presentations to encourage people to sign up for the limited, great, life altering opportunity.  They can include statements like*:

  • Don’t miss out on this great money making opportunity.
  • You too can make 6 figures in as little as 30-60 days.
  • For very little investment, or knowledge, you too can get the income you want.
  • In 60 days you too can quit your day job and do this full time making tons of money.
  • It doesn’t matter what you sell**, anyone doing our system and following our techniques will earn money.
  • You have to join right now to get this incredible deal that will go away at the end of this webinar presentation.  You have to take advantage of this incredible offer before we will disclose anything about the average earnings of those who have signed up.
  • You have thirty days to decide if you want your money back.
  • Only people who invest and/or purchase the premium option are serious, will get the most help from us, follow the system, and earn the most money.

Of course when asked about the average earnings or any of the disclosure statements they either can’t or won’t release them.  Yet they can tell you how much a few other people who followed their techniques and “made an effort” were able to make.  Some other techniques I have seen lately include:

  • Using cheerleaders/supporters in webinar chat to encourage others to sign up.  These people can also help deflect people away from questions they don’t want answered.  Some could be used to ask the questions that they want to answer in the very limited amount of time devoted to answering audience questions.
  • Using a sense of scarcity in the selling to get people to sign up faster.  This is done by statements such as “very limited amount of seats to let you get in on this very exclusive deal”, and “only those who attend our limited capacity webinar will get this life altering deal”.
  • The “hesitant signer up” person.  The person who expresses hesitation because of some financial concern.  The concern is then addressed by a supporter/employee vaguely.  Then the “hesitant signer up person” posts that they will “go for it” and encourage others to “go for it too” because they are ready for the life altering opportunity and everyone should jump on board too.
  • In the webinars they make statements that indicate employing Bait and Switch is not only okay, but completely legal.  Even though Bait and Switch is illegal.

When it comes to business opportunities that employ techniques such as these it is always a good idea to take a step back.  Research the company and the person selling the product to you.  Keep in mind you can also file a complaint with the FTC:

Here is the link to the website at the FTC to file the complaint:  https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#&panel1-1

Disclaimers:

*The statements are generic.  Any similarities between your company and it’s business opportunity selling practices are coincidental and something, perhaps, that you should reflect upon.

**In most cases they have a product for you to sell; in some there is either a vague product mentioned or it’s bascially any product you have to sell.

 The information contained within this site is done for informational purposes only and does not substitute professional advice or information on those topics.  The end user assumes all liability for following the tips and advice on this blog.  I’m not a lawyer.

Before signing up for any new business opportunity take time to research the industry and the company offering the opportunity.

Holiday Gift Ideas

The gift giving holiday season is upon us.  Gift shopping can be a bit overwhelming when you have a variety of people to shop for or are just looking for that great idea.  When it comes to giving gifts I tend to stick to the following tips:

  1. Don’t give them the same type of item multiple times in a row.  For example if I gave my mom a kitchen item for her birthday I won’t give her one for Christmas.  It’s like my mom says, “at first when I got stuff for the kitchen it was great.  Soon each new kitchen gift just reminded me of working in the kitchen.”  And an item might be best saved for after the holidays, or might work when paired with something really nice.
  2. Don’t give someone too much of the same type of gift at one time.  A prime example is with the new Star Wars movie there is a ton of merchandise out there.  From bedding to video games to toys.  Even though they might be a Star Wars fan they might not want every gift they receive to be Star Wars related.
  3. No pets or live critters.  When it comes to giving pets during the holidays the basic answer is to just skip it.  Puppies and kittens need time to adjust to new surroundings and people.  Even fish have their issues from setting up the tank to types of fish and cohabitation.  It’s just simpler to say no and then take the time to research pets after the holidays.
  4. Research gifts, especially technology or any gift that can access the internet.  Make sure that there is a way to change the default passwords associated with the toys.  As seen by recent news stories some popular kids toys were found to be hackable.
  5. If the gift is expensive see if others can go in on the cost.  Just make sure that if the cost was split between people that everyone is credited with giving the gift and is thanked.  It can be really frustrating to share in the cost of a gift only to have the recipient believe that only one person gave them the gift.
  6. Remember to thank everyone for the gift, or if they sent cash to let them know what the money was spent on.
  7. Make sure that the gift you are giving is something that they want, not something you really secretly want.

Here are a few gift ideas*:

Food Vacuum Sealer:  These units work great for food storage.  I got a horizontal unit because it allowed for less waste of the plastic when sealing the bags.  The benefits of the unit include: food storage that keeps food fresh longer, increases the space in the freezer, allows for some items to be purchased in larger more economical sizes and then stored.  I wash out the bags and reuse them until they get too small.  Some things I have noticed:

  • Need to wait the full 30 seconds between uses,
  • With some moist/wet foods I have to fill the bags and then freeze them before sealing them.
  • The bags have to be flat and dry to get a good seal.
  • Need to leave the space at the top of the bag for the Vacuum Sealer to actually work.

The brand I went with was Food Saver because it was on sale and came with accessories and a good supply of bags.  The bags also come on sale at a variety of stores every now and then.

Vacuum:  When it comes to vacuum cleaners when half of the dust that is picked up by the machine is being tossed out the back while vacuuming it is time to replace the unit.  I did a lot of research due to having some specific concerns with the amount of dust that some machines produce.  I found a Shark® Rotator™ Professional Vacuum that got great reviews especially for people with pets and dust allergies.  This unit works incredibly great and pulled up fine dust particles from the carpet.  It doesn’t lose suction and came with some great attachments.  The headlights are great and it has a forward momentum that makes it easy to use.  The one issue I have is that the unit is top heavy so it can fall over easier than my old vacuum.  Depending on where you get a Shark Rotator Professional it comes with different attachments and accessories.

GPS Unit:  If you know someone geographically challenged, like I am, then a GPS unit is a great investment.  I personally have had units from two different manufacturers.  The things to look for when getting a unit: size of display (4.5 inch or larger), life time maps and system updates, traffic alerts, and how long it takes for the unit to update its location.  Everything else comes down to preference.

 

 

*Disclaimer: I do not work for any of the companies that make any of the products listed. I did not receive any compensation for my review and none of the items were given to me for the review.  In short I am simply writing my opinion to help you, the reader, get your own ideas for gifts for yourself or someone else.

Microsoft Scams

With the release of Windows 10 there has been an increase in Windows Scams.  There is a new email scam going around to and the Microsoft Call Center scam calls have increased.  I have noticed that since the release I have gotten two phone calls from the “Microsoft Call Center” in a short time.  Also in the news recently there was an alert about a bogus email claiming that Microsoft was upgrading users to Windows 10 via email.  Anyone who does click on the link in the email can find their computers taken over by the scammers and will be forced to pay a ransom to get it released back to them.

On August 16, 2015 I got another one of those Microsoft Call Center Scam phone calls.  It came in at 9:14 P.M. my time, which puts it 14 minutes outside the allowed call time mandated by the FTC.  The phone call was very short.  You can read about my past experiences in these two blog posts: Scam Tech Support Phone Calls and Scam Tech Support Phone Calls Updated.

Here are two videos that shows how the scam works:

This one is a bit longer:

A simple search on YouTube shows multiple videos of the same nature.  All showing what the calls entail and how they work to get a person to allow access to their computer.  All the phone calls sound similar, “you have a problem with your computer and we are calling you to fix the issues.”  If the computer isn’t on they want you to turn on the computer.  In 2013 when I spent more time on the call with the Microsoft Call Center technician I never went to, or turned on, my computer nor did I have any intention to; so, I never got to the next step in the phone call.

From the video’s I watched the next step in the scam is to direct the person to different areas of the computer to scare them.   They claim that the information shown on the screen are dangerous infections that they must clean.  These are supposed to be very serious viruses; but first you need to download and use a Windows remote sharing program.  As mentioned in the video’s above the areas that they take a person to are normal; and are not “dangerous viruses”.  After the remote sharing software is installed and they have control it appears that they take the person to a form to enter in credit/debit card information.  In both videos you can see the retaliation the scammers take, or attempt to take, when the person takes too long or appears to be on to the scam and entering in fake information on the payment screen.

At the point that the remote sharing session is started they can control your computer.  They can upload, download, delete, or modify any location that they see fit.  You can actually still move the mouse and close the remote access session and close the software; however, they really don’t want you to do that.

Some things that you can do:

  • Do not answer “unknown”, “unavailable”, “blocked” etc. phone calls.
    • If you do immediately hang up.  Do not get into a conversation with them and don’t press any buttons to be taken off their list.
  • Do not allow them remote access to your computer.
    • If your computer has the feature “remote access” make sure that it is turned off.  To find it enter in “remote access” to the search.  It can also be found in “System Properties” on the last tab.
  • Do not download anything from them, or go to any website that they recommend.
  • Report the scam to the FTC ; for phone calls if you are on the Do Not Call List report the call at the Do Not Call Complaint area.
  • Report the scam to Microsoft
  • Do not give your personal information, including credit/debit card data to anyone over the phone.
  • Employ good password practices.  Including changing any default password on your electronic devices (modem, security cameras, baby monitor, etc.).  Don’t share your passwords or store them on the computer.
  • Keep System Restore turned on and create System Restore points.
  • Have a backup of your important files, and programs, in another location on disc or an external hard drive.
  • Keep your antivirus, anti malware software up to date.

 

 

Links/references in post:

Consumerist 8/3/2015 “Scam Alert Microsoft is not upgrading computers to Windows 10 through email.”

FTC Calling Time Restrictions (https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/complying-telemarketing-sales-rule#callingtime)

Scam Tech Support Phone Call (https://roseylinn.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/scam-tech-support-phone-calls/)

Scam Tech Support Phone Call Updated (https://roseylinn.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/scam-tech-support-phone-calls-2/)

FTC Complaint Assist (https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1)

FTC Do Not Call List Submit a Complaint (https://complaints.donotcall.gov/complaint/complaintcheck.aspx)

Canadian Anti Fraud Center (http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm)

UK Action Fraud (http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/)

UK Telephone Preference Service (http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/index.html)

Microsoft Report a Technical Support Scam (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/getsupport?oaspworkflow=start_1.0.0.0&wfname=scamsurvey&ccsid=635754583937906028)

Password Computer Safety (https://roseylinn.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/password-computer-safety/)

 

Google Maps PAC-MAN

For a limited time you can play the classic arcade game PAC-MAN on Google Maps.  When you go to Google Maps you can search for different areas to see what locations have enough streets for PAC-MAN.  The simplest way to do that is to enter in a search and then click on the icon on the bottom left corner of the screen.  If there are enough streets for the maze it will change to the game board.  Another fun option is to just click the PAC-MAN icon and then the “I’m feeling lucky” option and it takes you directly to an area to start playing.   You can share your score, and different locations, via the “share your score” button.  It will link to the map you used so others can try the same location.

Have fun.  🙂

Mid-Week Magic Break

Before you try to imitate any of the tricks in the video, keep in mind that the person is a magician.  Enjoy: