Four Scams To Watch Out For In Paris

by Lara Payd Sunday, November 22, 2015 3:01 AM

I am coming back from an awesome traveling experience visiting Paris and London and I can say that choosing the right travel agency contributed to making this trip enjoyable, because the company specializes in tours oriented to young adults like me. So that the eight days/nine nights of fun included in my package, were days of sightseeing some of the most famous tourists attractions in these European cities, and yet having a two-day Paris extension from the tour operator that included guided tours. The selected balance of the day trips and nightly events, included a visit to Versailles, Montmartre, a nightly visit to the Eiffel tower, and dining at the famous Moulin Rouge, the most famous cabaret in Paris dating from the 19th century that is located at 82 Boulevard de Clichy.

London Piccadilly Circus

My sole complaint about stopping at Moulin Rouge would be the required jacket and necktie because our classic tourist bermudas and tennis shoes are not allowed to get in. However, this like some other activities in the guided tour, were optional to take. Similarly, touring London was a once in a lifetime experience for me, visiting on foot emblematic places like the Buckingham Palace, the Piccadilly Circus plaza and the famous Big Ben clock tower in the north end of the Palace of Westminster, besides attending the musical playing at the Novello Theatre in Aldwych. Undoubtedly an unforgettable travel experience that would take too many pages to describe.

When the Fun is Over

You know that no city in the world is exempt of thievery and Paris is not an exception. Since most of the nightly tours took place in The City of Light (La Ville Lumière), our expert tour guide devoted some time to share with us some security tips to avoid being mugged, making us aware of popular scams running in the city that we could find going alone and sometimes happenings to people going in tour groups, because this sole fact makes travelers the target of scams. Of course, this does not mean that you will be a victim of theft, but is good to know it just in case, as I would add that it is also good to have on hand the contact information of a reliable payday loans service because whether you are victim of robbery or not, by the time your trip is over, you will find yourself in need of fast cash if you spend the way I did.

Paris Eiffel tower

  1. Please Sign-up This Petition Scam

    Have you noticed that nowadays the whole world seems to be engaged in supposed worthwhile causes? In Paris this is also common, but usually the right argument for this scam, in which an individual comes to you with a sheet of paper that includes already several signatures below a text written in French. If you are not knowledgeable in this language, you will never realize this is a scam to get you accepting to pay a given amount of money to the jerk coming your way. And even if you understand such language a bit, the text will be obscure to understand, so it is better to stay safe by never signing any request a stranger makes during your trips.

  2. The Ring Scam

    This scam is really a trick based on your distraction and "good luck" finding a gold rink or another valuable object in your way. As soon as you pick the item up, someone will approach to you claiming a share on your good luck. You can keep the object, the individual will say, but will demand an amount of money as he or she also "saw it" just at the same you did and many times this found-item will not worth the amount the scammer expects you to pay. If it is not yours, simply do not take it.

    Paris Moulin Rouge

  3. Have You Dropped Something? Scam

    This is a variation of the previous scam and is also based on a distraction moment, at which you might be standing up and hearing something dropping to the ground. You are absolutely sure it was not you, so you simply walk away because the idea behind this scam is making you bend over to find what was dropped; giving a wallet snatcher the opportunity to takes yours.

  4. String Tricks

    Perhaps this is truly the most important scam you must be aware of, because while the other three are based on ignorance or distraction on the tourist side, this scam is a direct threat to get you doing what they want; your money. According to our tour guide, an individual may approach you with the intention to make for you a "friendly" ring or bracelet with a piece of yarn, string or some other crafty-looking material. If you accept, he will do it gladly, but tying your wrist or finger so tight that you will suddenly find yourself trapped in the individual's hands, who will not let you go until after visiting an ATM to get you taking all your money out for him. So, if you ever get someone asking to make you a bracelet or ring, simply say "no" and keep walking.

Knowing about the existence of these scams is purely informative, not really meaning that you will find them every time and anywhere you are traveling, but being aware of them lets you travel with the peace of mind that only being an educated tourist allows you to enjoy the trip as I did.

 

Nuisance Calls and Scams

by Rudolf Faix Sunday, November 8, 2015 4:39 AM

PhoneWhile not all nuisance calls are scams or associated with fraud, many are. There are several types of scams or fraudulent calls you might receive on your phone. These include:

  • Caller ID Spoofing
    At this kind of call the caller changes the number from which he is calling you. Normally, if someone calls you the device captures and shows you the phone number of the caller. But, scammers try to fool you by changing the number that you see on your phone.

    Those that try to scam you often pretend to be a reputable company or perhaps a company or organization that you already trust, like your bank. They are doing this to steal your personal information and possibly try to gain access to your bank account or other financial accounts. Alternatively, they may be looking for personally identifiable information for stealing your identity.

    When such scammers are calling you, they may even say that they’re from your financial institution and that they need to collect or verify some of your information. They may claim this is part of a security check or that your personal information may have been compromised. Don’t give them any information over the phone. Your bank, brokerage firm or other financial institutions will not call you and ask you for about your personal information like your bank account number.

    Never rely on the caller ID alone to determine whether the person is really from the organisation he claims to be. If you suspect the person might be trying to defraud you or if you can’t verify that the person called you is from your bank/financial institution, hang up, notify your bank/financial institution or the police.

    Before you dial out to another number be sure that the previous call has been terminated. If you are unsure about this take another phone for your next dial out. If the scammer did not clear the line by hanging up, then there is a chance that when you attempt to make the next call and you end up by talking to the scammer again. For the case that they called you at your fixed line, they may even are able to play a ringtone to make it sound like you are making a dial while they are waiting patiently and silently on the other side. So make sure your line is clear when calling your financial institution to verify the call, that way, you do not accidentally reconnect with the fraudster or an accomplice. Use always phone numbers that have been provided to you by the companies you deal with and not a phone number told you over the phone.

  • Spam Texts
    Spam text messaging occurs when a company or organization sends you an unwanted text message alerting you about something or sending you an offer.

    In general, it’s illegal for anyone or any company to send you spam texts unless you’ve already asked them to send you text messages. If you’ve given to a business the permission to text you, however, that company can continue to send you texts for other services, but it must offer you the option to opt out.

  • Overt Abusive Calls
    When someone rings you at your fixed line and is abusive, whether it’s a stranger, a company you’re doing business with, or some other organization, you should immediately call your phone company and ask to speak with their nuisance or malicious calls team. Notify them of the problem, and they may offer you anonymous call blocking.

    At mobile phones are you normally able to setup anonymous call blocking and blocking of single phone numbers by yourself. Consult the instruction manual of your mobile phone for more information how to block phone numbers and anonymous calls.

    But, be aware that the service can also block legitimate calls you receive. For example, if you receive regular phone calls from family or friends out of the country, anonymous call blocking might block these calls. If you opt for the service, you will also have to coordinate with your friends or family to make sure important calls get through or you may have to ring them yourself.

  • Unsolicited Calls
    Calls you receive that you did not ask for and do not want

    Unsolicited calls are often marketing-related. A company or organization gets your phone number and starts calling you offering you products or services. Normally, a business must have your permission to ring you for an offer, but many businesses skirt these rules or find creative ways to get you to agree to have them ring you for offers.

    For example, if you sign up for, or purchase, anything online, you may be unknowingly agreeing to receive phone calls from solicitors.

    Sometimes, these calls are automated. So-called “robo-callers” or automated calling systems will ring you on a preset schedule. Sometimes, the solicitors are calling about donations to a charity. Other times, they are calling to sell you debt management services or legal services for personal injury claims. Still other times they are calling to sell you products over the phone.

    Marketing agencies and organizations making such calls must have your permission to call you, but if you’ve checked off any boxes online while filling out a form, or while making a purchase, or agreed to terms of service which allowed a business to sell your personal information, you may have already given permission accidentally.

    You may also get caught by something called “Automatic Number Identification” or ANI. These systems don’t get your permission explicitly, but rather implicitly. Once you dial out, it’s done. The organization captures your number and sells it to other companies who then call you.

    The best way to protect yourself is to not sign up for anything online, through the mail, and resist giving out your phone number unless you know who you’re giving it to and you can be assured that your information won’t be sold to anyone else.

    If you’re already on a list, call the Telephone Preference Service and ask to be opted out of receiving calls.

  • Abandoned or Silent Calls
    Calls that are silent (you see them as missed calls) or are disconnected when you answer

People Who Are Most At Risk For Nuisance Calls

The Elderly

While anyone can be the victim of a nuisance call, some groups of people are especially vulnerable. For example, the elderly and single parents may receive an unusually high number of nuisance calls relative to the general population.

In fact, it is estimated that while the average UK resident receives 7 nuisance calls a month, 40% of the phone calls that older and vulnerable residents of Scotland receive are nuisance  calls.

These statistics were discovered by Angus Council, East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire, three of the country’s trading standards authorities.

Additionally, the The Financial Ombudsman Service found that roughly 80% of individuals who were scammed out of their savings were over 55. About one in five was over 75.

About 38% of victims lost anywhere between £5,000 and £14,999, with 20% of victims losing between £20,000 and £49,999. Some unfortunate victims lost more than £100,000. The most at-risk areas include London and the South East.

The elderly are especially vulnerable to these nuisance calls. Malicious individuals or organisations often prey on them, attempting to get personal information or have the senior hand over his or her life savings.

Some firms try to entice elderly victims with prize winnings or send begging letters. Of course, there is no prize waiting for the victim.

Another scam promises the victim lottery winnings, usually from outside the state or country. And, the senior doesn’t even have to enter. In fact, these organisations contact victims, telling them that their name was drawn at random and they’ve won. Incredible! They didn’t even enter any contest.

The only stipulation is that the elderly victim pay some fee or administrative cost before the money is released. Elderly people tend to be inherently trusting, and so they hand over the cash, but never receive the prize winnings.

Yet another scam involves unlicensed financial advisors who attempt to sell seniors unregulated investments which may jeopardise their life savings. While the recent banning of commissions has eliminated many commission-driven fraudsters, the practice of cashing in a pension pot is still a problem for many.

Fortunately, up to 98% of these nuisance calls can be blocked using special call-blocking technology.

Single Parents

Single parents might also be a victim of nuisance calls, especially when there are children involved. An ex-partner may be jealous or feel that the relationship ended badly, and may call directly or put someone else up to ringing their spouse or ex-partner’s line repeatedly.

Vulnerable individuals need to report all fraudulent activity to the authorities, like Ofcom, immediately. If you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of a crime, call the local police.

Blocking Calls Using Apps

Truecaller is an app for iOS devices that helps you peek behind the curtain of a phone number to learn who’s really behind the call. Get enhanced call ID information, search for any number to see who it belongs to, and link directly to Yelp! and other social networks to find the identity of the organisation making the call.

This app makes blocking spam and scammers much easier.

As with iPhone, Truecaller for Android can help you block unwanted calls on your Droid. Install the app and use it as you would on iPhone.

Best Practices For Staying Safe

Of course, beyond the apps and settings on your phone, there are some best practices you can employ to avoid being scammed or bothered by unwanted calls:

Stop signing up for free offers

Free offers are almost never free. When you tick off a box that says you agree to the terms and conditions, read them. Often, part of those terms includes a provision that lets the company sell your personal information. If you agree to these terms, you may start receiving phone calls which you believe are unsolicited.
Unfortunately, because you’ve agreed to terms and conditions which allow for this, there is usually no recourse other than asking to be removed from the organisation’s call list.

Resist paid offers unless you know and trust the business

Think before you buy into another service, even if it’s a contract renewal. Mobile phone renewals, for example, could trigger an avalanche of follow-up calls, asking you to sign up for additional services or buy additional products from the carrier or a dealer.

These calls can turn into nuisance calls that you can’t easily stop because you’ve already done business with the company and agreed to receive calls from them.

When a business asks you for your contact information before, during, or after a sale, resist it. Most businesses want your number so that they can call you in the future with offers. Unless you want sales calls in the future from a company, just politely decline. If the business or organisation insists, remind them that you are already doing business with them. If they refuse business unless you hand over your contact information, it may be a good idea to do business with someone else.

Don’t agree to anything over the phone if you’re unsure about the caller

Sometimes, it’s difficult to say “no” to someone over the phone, especially if they’re nice and polite. However, if you do not know the individual, your best response usually is “no.”

Do not give out your credit card numbers, don’t agree to switch utility providers, even if they promise you a lower tariff (always check with your provider first about your rates vs a competitors’). And, don’t assume a friendly inquiry or marketing survey is always innocent. Often, these calls are designed to trick you into buying something you don’t really want.

Do not use your real number

If you do have to sign up for a service, or you’re buying a product online, sign up for a Google number through Google Voice. This service lets you create a fictitious number which can be easily changed so you’re not giving out your real number. And, it’s easy to set up:

  • Go to the Google Voice website and sign in with your Google Account login information

  • Choose a Google Voice Account type

  • Select “I want a new number”
  • Enter a forwarding number and the type of phone you have. This is the phone that will ring when someone rings this new Google number. You can add more phones to this number later if you want

  • Take down the code presented to you and click “Call Me Now” to verify your forwarding phone

  • Enter the code you received previously into the box on the screen

  • Search for an available Google Voice Number. You may search by area code, post code, word or phrase

  • Select your number

That’s it. Your new number is now active. When you sign up for services, simply give organisations and businesses your Google number. When they ring it, it will forward the call to your real number.

If you start having problems with nuisance calls, simply get rid of the Google number and get another one. This effectively sets up a shield between you and the would-be nuisance caller.

Add your name to the 'do-not-call' list

The Telephone Preference Service lets you opt out of receiving calls from solicitors. While many individuals are familiar with this service for landlines, TPS will accept mobile phone numbers as well. It’s a good first line of defense.

It will not stop charity organisations, however, and some calls may get through if they are not considered telemarketing calls. These calls may still be considered nuisance calls. However, you should see a dramatic reduction in the number of them.

 

 

Cancer Research Scams

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 6:13 AM

X-ray photographMost all of us have been there: a beloved wife, husband, mother, father, daughter, son, or dear friend is diagnosed with cancer. We know the treatment is painful and the cure, chancy. We hate the thought of the suffering ahead. What we want more than anything is a breakthrough - a cure that will also protect our loved ones from debilitating side effects.

And then we hear about a revolutionary cancer research project that sounds completely on the up and up...it just needs financial backing. Seductive? You bet. Understandably, people fall for it like a ton of bricks.

Take a case out of the FBI's Jacksonville office:

A woman claiming to have a master’s degree in clinical nutrition was successfully marketing a full-body "electrotherapy cancer machine" across the United States.

The wind up: She said it was a breakthrough development by a London-based team of doctors, lab technicians, and physicists from the combined research fields of electromagnetic field therapy, radio frequency therapy, crystal healing therapy, and "human energy" healing.

The pitch: The machine had been tested on local cancer patients in London who were now cured, and a European company had promised to buy the machine for millions of dollars. Money was needed to complete the project...and the return on investors’ money would be at least 50% and likely much more.

The foul: Thanks to an alert local bank investigator who was suspicious of an account suddenly receiving massive numbers of wire transfers in 2003, our Jacksonville office was contacted. We opened a case and turned two undercover agents into wannabe investors. It was just a matter of time before a joint investigation with our local Florida police partners turned up hard evidence that the full-body "electrotherapy cancer machine" was a complete fraud...to the tune of $2.5 million illegally raked in between 1997 and 2003.

Game over: In mid-2004, investigators had enough evidence for indictments on wire fraud charges. With our police partners - the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana - we arrested two subjects. Trials are coming up shortly.

Lessons learned: We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: If it sounds too good to be true, it IS too good to be true. Whether it’s a miracle cure or a miracle return on investment that interests you, please first go down our checklist on how to avoid these classic "advance fee scams".

 

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I'm since more then 35 years in the computer business (programming and technical support) and using the Internet since it has started. Since 2002 I'm programming solutions for Asterisk and since 2004 I'm in the call center industry.

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