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.

 

Non-Delivery of Merchandise

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 9:02 AM

FedEx (Federal Express) vanThe non-delivery scam occurs when the scammer places an item up for sale when there is actually no item at all. The item is subsequently never delivered to the buyer after they purchase the item.

Tips for Avoiding Non-Delivery of Merchandise:

  • Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source.

  • Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.

  • Obtain a physical address rather than simply a post office box and a telephone number, and call the seller to see if the telephone number is correct and working.

  • Send an e-mail to the seller to make sure the e-mail address is active, and be wary of those that utilize free e-mail services where a credit card wasn’t required to open the account.

  • Consider not purchasing from sellers who won’t provide you with this type of information.

  • Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller’s area.

  • Check out other websites regarding this person/company.

  • Don’t judge a person or company by their website. Flashy websites can be set up quickly.

  • Be cautious when responding to special investment offers, especially through unsolicited e-mail.

  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.

  • Inquire about returns and warranties.

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

  • Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card numbers.

  • Consider using an escrow or alternate payment service.

 

Small Business Scams

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 8:38 AM

Bank statementScams that target small businesses can come in a variety of forms - from bills for advertising or directory listings that were never ordered to dubious office supply offers.

Small business operators and individuals with their own Internet sites continue to be confused and caught by unsolicited letters warning them that their Internet domain name is due to expire and must be renewed, or offering them a new domain name similar to their current one.

If you have registered a domain name, be sure to carefully check any domain name renewal notices or invoices that you receive. While the notice could be genuine, it could also be from another company trying to sign you up, or it could be from a scammer.

  • Check that the renewal notice matches your current domain name exactly. Look out for small differences - for example, ".com" instead of ".ca" or missing letters in the URL address.

  • Check that the renewal notice comes from the company with which you originally registered your domain name.

  • Check your records for the actual expiry date for your existing domain name.

A directory listing or unauthorized advertising scam tries to bill a business for a listing or advertisement in a magazine, journal or business directory, or for an online directory listing.

The scam might come as a proposal for a subscription disguised as an update of an existing listing in a business directory. You might also be led to believe that you are responding to an offer for a free listing when in fact it is an order for a listing requiring later payment.

Another common approach used by scammers is to call a firm asking to confirm details of an advertisement that they claim has already been booked. The scammer might quote a genuine entry or advertisement your business has had in a different publication or directory to convince you that you really did use the scammer’s product.

Be wary of order forms offering advertising opportunities in business directories. These order forms may look like they originate from a well-known supplier of directory advertising, when they don’t. 

An office supply scam involves you receiving and being charged for goods that you did not order. These scams often involve goods or services that you regularly order - for example, paper, printing supplies, maintenance supplies or advertising.

You might receive a phone call from someone falsely claiming to be your "regular supplier", telling you that the offer is a "special" or "available for a limited time", or pretending to only confirm your address or existing order. If you agree to buy any of the supplies offered to you, they will often be overpriced and of bad quality.

Protect yourself:

  • Make sure that the people processing the invoices or answering telephone calls are aware of these scams. They will most often be the point of contact for the scammers. Always check that goods or services were both ordered and delivered before paying an invoice.

  • Never give out or update any information about your business unless you know what the information will be used for.

  • Don’t agree to a business proposal over the phone - always ask for an offer in writing. Limit the number of people in your business that have access to funds and have the authority to approve purchases.

  • Effective management procedures can go a long way towards preventing these scams from succeeding. Having clearly defined procedures for the verification, payment and management of accounts and invoices is an effective defence against these types of scams.

  • Ask yourself if a caller claims that I have ordered or authorized something and I do not think it sounds right, shouldn’t I ask for proof?

 

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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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