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.

 

 

What To Do If You Got Scammed?

by Rudolf Faix Friday, November 6, 2015 12:41 AM

Mouse Trap - scammedAuthorities may not always be able to take action against scams, even if it seems like a scammer might have broken the law. Although it may be hard to recover any money that you have lost to a scam, there are steps you can take to reduce the damage and avoid becoming a target for a follow-up scam. The more quickly you act, as larger is your chance of reducing your losses. Report a scam. By reporting the scam to authorities, they may be able to warn other people about the scam and minimize the chances of the scam spreading further. You should also warn your friends and family of any scams that you come across.

If you have been tricked into signing a contract or buying a product or service

Contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office and consider getting independent advice to examine your options: there may be a cooling-off period or you may be able to negotiate a refund.

If you think someone has gained access to your online account, telephone banking account or credit card details

Call your financial institution immediately so they can suspend your account and limit the amount of money you lose. Credit card companies may also be able to perform a "charge back" (reverse the transaction) if they believe that your credit card was billed fraudulently. Do not use contact details that appear in emails or on websites that you are suspicious of - they will probably be fake and lead you to a scammer. You can find legitimate contact details in the phone book, an account statement or on the back of your ATM card. 

If the scam relates to your health

Stop taking any pills or substances that you are not sure about. See a doctor or other qualified medical professional as soon as you can. Be sure to tell them about the treatment that the scammer sold (take along any substances, including their packaging). Also tell them if you have stopped any treatment that you were taking before the scam.

If you have sent money to someone that you think may be a scammer

If you sent your credit card details, follow the instructions in the section opposite.

If you sent money through an electronic funds transfer (over the Internet), contact your financial institution immediately. If they have not already processed the transfer, they may be able to cancel it.

If you sent a cheque, contact your financial institution immediately. If the scammer hasn’t already cashed your cheque, they may be able to cancel it.

If you sent money through a wire service (such as Western Union or Money Gram), contact the wire service immediately.

If you are very quick, they may be able to stop the transfer.

If you have been tricked by a door-to-door seller

You may be protected by laws that provide you with a "cooling-off" period, during which you can cancel an agreement or contract that you signed. Contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office for advice about door-to-door sales laws.

If you have been scammed using your computer

If you were using your computer when you got scammed, it is possible that a virus or other malicious software is still on your computer. Run a full system check using reliable security software.

If you do not have security software (such as virus scanners and a firewall) installed on your computer, a computer professional can help you choose what you need.

Scammers may have also gained access to your online passwords. Change these using a secure computer.

If the scam involves your mobile phone

Call your telephone provider and let them know what has happened.

 

Handy Hints to Protect Yourself against Fraud

by Rudolf Faix Thursday, November 5, 2015 3:46 PM

Protect yourselfProtect your identity

  • Only give out your personal details and information where it is absolutely necessary and when you trust the person you are speaking to or dealing with.

  • Destroy personal information: don’t just throw it out. You should cut up or shred old bills, statements or cards - for example, credit cards and ATM cards.

  • Treat your personal details like you would treat money: don’t leave them lying around for others to take.

 

Money matters

  • Never send money to anyone that you don’t know and trust.

  • Do not send any money or pay any fee to claim a prize or lottery winnings.

  • "Jobs" asking you to simply use your own bank account to transfer money for somebody could be a front for money-laundering activity. Money laundering is a serious criminal offence.

  • Avoid transferring or wiring any refunds or overpayments back to anyone you do not know.

The face-to-face approach

  • If someone comes to your door, ask to see some identification. You do not have to let them in, and they must leave if you ask them to.

  • Before you decide to pay any money, if you are interested in what a door-to-door salesperson has to offer, take the time to find out about their business and their offer.

  • Contact the Competition Bureau, provincial and territorial consumer affairs offices or the Better Business Bureau of your province or territory if you are unsure about a seller that comes to your door.

 

Telephone business

  • If you receive a phone call from someone you do not know, always ask for the name of the person you are speaking to and who they represent. Verify this information by calling the company yourself.

  • Do not give out your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.

  • It is best not to respond to text messages or missed calls that come from numbers you do not recognize. Be especially wary of phone numbers beginning with 1-900. These may be charged at a higher rate than other numbers and can be very expensive.

 

Email offers

  • Never reply to a spam email, even to unsubscribe - often, this just serves to "verify" your address to scammers. The best course of action is to delete any suspicious emails without opening them.

  • Turn off the "viewing pane" as just viewing the email may send a verification notice to the sender that yours is a valid email address.

  • Legitimate banks and financial institutions will never ask you for your account details in an email or ask you to click on a link in an email to access your account.

  • Never call a telephone number or trust other contact details that you see in a spam email.

 

Internet Business

  • Install software that protects your computer from viruses and unwanted programs and make sure it is kept current. If you are unsure, seek the help of a computer professional.

  • If you want to access a website, use a bookmarked link to the website or type the address of the website into the browser yourself. Never follow a link in an email.

  • Check website addresses carefully. Scammers often set up fake websites with addresses very similar to legitimate websites.

  • Beware of websites offering "free" downloads (such as music, adult content, games and movies). Downloading these products may install harmful programs onto your computer without you knowing.

  • Avoid clicking on pop-up ads - this could lead to harmful programs being installed on your computer.

  • Never enter your personal, credit card or online account information on a website that you are not sure is genuine.

  • Never send your personal, credit card or online banking details through an email.

  • Avoid using public computers (at libraries or Internet cafes) to do your Internet banking or online shopping.

 

Internet Auction Fraud

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 9:26 AM

ebayAn online auction is an auction which is held over the internet. Online auctions come in many different formats, but most popularly they are ascending English auctions, descending Dutch auctions, first-price sealed-bid, Vickrey auctions, or sometimes even a combination of multiple auctions, taking elements of one and forging them with another. The scope and reach of these auctions have been propelled by the Internet to a level beyond what the initial purveyors had anticipated. This is mainly because online auctions break down and remove the physical limitations of traditional auctions such as geography, presence, time, space, and a small target audience.

Online auctions have become big business, with millions of items for sale at any given time. (5 million+ at eBay alone, right now.) Tens of thousands of people around the world currently make a full-time living selling items through Internet auction houses.

One reason for their incredible growth and popularity is that they make it easy for people to find great deals on hard to find items from around the world. The excitement also makes them prime hunting grounds for scam artists, ready to play on the desire many auction bidders have for that “unbelievable deal.”

We want to mention right off the bat that the vast majority of sellers and buyers at online auctions are honest people, and deliver on their promises. According to eBay, only one auction in 40,000 on their site ends with a reported case of confirmed fraud.

 

Tips for Avoiding Internet Auction Fraud:

  • Understand as much as possible about how the auction works, what your obligations are as a buyer, and what the seller’s obligations are before you bid.

  • Find out what actions the website/company takes if a problem occurs and consider insuring the transaction and shipment.

  • Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an e-mail address. If it is a business, check the Better Business Bureau where the seller/business is located.

  • Examine the feedback on the seller.

  • Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from the buyer and where he/she is asking to send payment.

  • If possible, purchase items online using your credit card, because you can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.

  • Be cautious when dealing with sellers outside the United States. If a problem occurs with the auction transaction, it could be much more difficult to rectify.

  • Ask the seller about when delivery can be expected and whether the merchandise is covered by a warranty or can be exchanged if there is a problem.

  • Make sure there are no unexpected costs, including whether shipping and handling is included in the auction price.

  • There should be no reason to give out your social security number or driver’s license number to the seller.

 

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AboutMe

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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