Bamboozled October 13, 2016: Roundup of new scams to guard against

Scam Alert Concept

Protect yourself from scams by learning what the bad guys are up to now.

When we hear of a new scam, or the resurgence of an old one, we want to make you’re aware so you don’t fall victim.

Some of the latest ones we want to share are doozies.

COUNTERFEIT CRAIGSLIST SCAMS

Craigslist has replaced the help wanted sections of most newspapers, offering users a chance to sell or buy items online.

Unfortunately, many crooks use the site to pull off schemes to steal money from others.

It seems the use of fake or counterfeit money is on the rise.

In a recent case in South Carolina, a woman sold her SUV on Craigslist for $4,500. The buyers — a young couple with a new baby — paid with 45 $100 bills in an envelope.

When the seller took the money to the bank, the teller said the bills were counterfeit.

In another case in Tennessee, a couple put an iPad for sale on Cragislist. They buyer paid with an envelope that had three $100 bills inside.

After the sale, the seller examined the money more closely. He saw the words “for motion picture use only” on the bills, reports said.

By then, the buyer was long gone.

If you ever use Craigslist to sell an item, use caution. Don’t accept unusual payment methods, and protect yourself by brushing up on how to identify fakes. Check out the U.S. Currency Education Program website.

And use this form to report counterfeit bills to The Secret Service.

SCAMS BASED ON NEWS EVENTS

Scammers pay attention to the news, and they use what’s going on in the world to find potential victims.

This goes for fake charities that try to collect funds for storm victims, so expect to see some fakers seeking funds for Hurricane Matthew victims. Read this to learn more about how to check out a charity before you give.

A resource for your consumer problems. Don’t forget to bookmark it!

Fraudsters also try to use other news items to get your money.

In Kentucky, owners of Volkswagen or Audi 2.0-liter Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) diesel-engine vehicles were targeted.

The state’s attorney general settled a suit against Volkswagen related to allegations the carmaker rigged software to cheat emissions tests.

In the settlement, which could be worth more than $80 million, vehicle owners would get at least $5,100 and a generous car buyback program, reports said.

The state’s attorney general said scammers have been trying to get their hands on these cars so they, instead of the vehicles’ original owners, can benefit from the settlement.

While this scam is specific to Kentucky, it’s not unreasonable to say something could happen like this here in New Jersey. Learn more about the settlement here.

If you are part of a class action settlement of any kind, don’t fall for a phony promise to get the money that’s due to you. Do some research and find the source. Don’t take anyone else’s word for, well, anything.

If you’ve got a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone, be on alert, too.

While you’re at it, watch out for social media posts that promise to tell you “shocking” news about a presidential candidate’s death or severe injury. With all kinds of passion circulating about the election, scammers are betting that lots of people will click, allowing the bad guys to install malware onto your computer.

Just don’t click unless you know the source

CREDIT CARD SCAMS

You’ve been pre-approved!

There are lots of legit credit card offers out there, so scammers looking to use these as a way to take advantage credit-seekers.

You might receive an offer in the mail, or maybe you get an email with a terrific new offer.

At worst, if the offer is a fake, you may give all your personal information to a huckster. He’ll then take your Social Security number, birth date, address and other private info and use it to open up fake accounts in your name. The scammer will run up thousands of dollars of debt in your name. When you figure it out — and it could take a while, or until you check your credit report (which you can do once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com — you’ll have a mess on your hands. If it ever happens to you, it can take months, or even years, to clear your name.

At best, you might pay an annual fee for a credit card that doesn’t really exist. Then you’ll just be out the fee.

An answer to the biggest question posed to the Bamboozled column

If you find a fake account in your name, contact the three major credit bureaus — Equifax online or at (800) 535-6285, Experian online or at (888) 397-3742 and TransUnion online or at (800) 680-7289.

You should also contact the loan issuer to tell them your information has been used by a scammer.

If you think someone has stolen your identity or something has compromised  your credit, you can ask the bureaus to put a fraud alert on your credit files, or ask for a credit freeze.

EVENT SCAMS

You might hear about an event you’d like to attend: a concert, a food festival, a home improvement show, a wedding expo.

Whatever the event, make sure it’s the real thing before you buy tickets.

In the summer, a host of crab-related events — “The Hot Garlic Crab Feed,” “The Super Crab Festival,” “The Dungeness Crab Association” — were advertised in cities across the country on Facebook, Groupon and other sites. According to at least one published report, the events moved around, starting in San Francisco, then Los Angeles, then Texas, and all the way to Philly.

They were phonies.

Customers would pay for their tickets, but the events never happened.

Before you buy tickets to any event, make sure you confirm with a reputable source that the event is for real. Call the venue. Contact the town where the event is supposed to happen. And if you can’t get an independent and objective confirmation, don’t buy the tickets.

iPHONE SCAM

New technology brings about new scams.

The new iPhone 7 is no exception.

A woman in China tried to get her hands on one through an online marketplace.

She paid her money, but the snarky scammer sent not an iPhone 7, but two others: an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 3.

And no, the two phones certainly didn’t add up to an iPhone 7.

But the real snark came with an addition to the delivery of the two phones, according to one report.

It was a Yu-Gi-Oh card, based on the Japanese animated series. The card, called “Polymerization,” gives the user the power to combine two monsters to make a larger, more powerful beast.

A sense of humor, the scammer had, for sure.

Have you been Bamboozled? Reach Karin Price Mueller at Bamboozled@NJAdvanceMedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. Find Bamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Stay informed and sign up for NJMoneyHelp.com’s weekly e-newsletter.

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