October 18, 2018 at 5:00 am | By BILL BROOKS and TERRI DICKERSON
PayPal offers a valuable service by allowing us to pay for our purchases over the Internet without having to use our debit or credit cards. This helps us protect our valuable personal information. But be aware of an email phishing scam where the criminals are issuing “fake” PayPal receipts for your PayPal payment. This scam has been around a few years but has once again resurfaced.
The scam goes something like this:
You get an email from Service@paypal.com with […]
October 15, 2018 | By Bill Brooks
Here it comes. It is reported that Sears has been working with its advisors and trying to decide whether to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy request or a Chapter 7 request. Both will affect consumers’ rights and could affect pension plans of retired Sears employees.
If you have Sears products under warranty, or are a Sears retiree or have Sears stock, watch this one carefully. Our Spokane Valley store has been very good at working with consumers and providing information and help on warranties.
October 11, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
Jolly Roger (jollyrogertelephone.com) is a new program using artificial intelligence (AI) to drive scam callers crazy. The program “engages” the live caller using AI to keep them on the phone as long as possible and to frustrate them to no end. If you’d like to hear an example, go to: https://bit.ly/2pJbTh1
As AI develops, these anti-robo call technologies will rapidly advance to destroy all robo callers and scammers. It can’t be soon enough!
MEDICARE QUESTIONS: When it comes to Medicare issues, we feel like we’re […]
October 08, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
CRAIGSLIST CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM: A couple from Chicago contracted for the perfect Seattle location for their wedding using Craigslist. The couple rented a Seattle residence for two weeks for about $3,000 for their wedding preparation and nuptials.
When they arrived, they quickly realized they had been taken to the cleaners by a Craigslist scammer. The Seattle residence was NOT owned by the person they contacted (who was the person they sent $3,000 to). The residents who live in the home were, to say the […]
October 04, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
The following information comes directly from the Idaho Secretary of State’s office and an article appearing in the Idaho Statesman by Christina Lords.
“Neither election officials nor legitimate voter advocacy groups will ever offer to register voters or mail out absentee ballots solely based on a phone conversation. Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney reminded the public not to give out personal information over the phone.
Denney said, “With the General Election […]
October 01, 2018 | By Bill Brooks
I had a call from a consumer whose credit has been ruined because she, from the perspective of her creditors, was ignoring their monthly billing statement and inquiries. Some creditors don’t report […]
September 27, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
The Senior Medicare Patrol puts on presentations at area get-togethers, lunches and meetings. It also offers private counseling to Medicare recipients. These people are volunteers but highly trained specialists to assist those eligible for Medicare in Idaho. You can call 800-786-5536 ext. 232. […]
September 24, 2018 | By Bill Brooks
Consumers should understand the difference between ransomware, a virus, and a popup.
As a computer user at home or in a small business, you are highly unlikely to encounter true ransomware. Ransomware actually takes over your computer and encrypts your key files and sometimes, all your files.
Once that’s accomplished, the entity sending the infecting programs to your computer will contact the target from an untraceable source and offer, once payment is made, to unlock the infected system. If the money is not paid, usually […]
September 20, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
What’s a “come-on”? At best it’s something that is done to get customers for a business. At worst, it’s a dishonest way to entice consumers to click here, enter your email there, or provide identifying, confidential information to an entity (business or individual) that doesn’t otherwise have access to your information.
This tactic is often used when you enter an online contest. Next thing you know you get an email offering to “unlock” other perks or benefits. All you need to do is answer […]
September 17, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
The winner of the “grand prize” this year will allegedly receive $2,500 per week for life (until such time as they catch the big bus), AND be permitted to designate another person to receive the same prize for the rest of […]
September 13, 2018| By BILL BROOKS
Debts and liens are not the same! This week I had a consumer call me with a real problem. The consumer had gone through filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, then tried selling their home to cash out the equity and start over.
Not so fast: There was a lien against the property.
A successful bankruptcy can be like a magic wand. Bankruptcy can eliminate your responsibility for paying a particular debt. The wand only affects debts, however, not liens created by them — they’re two separate […]
September 10, 2018 | By Bill Brooks
ABU & COF COULD COST YOU: A consumer called me recently with a new wrinkle that every credit or debit card user needs to be aware of. The story is this: The consumer spotted a couple of charges on his credit card that were fraudulent. He immediately notified his financial institution, placed the charges “in contest” and asked that his card be immediately cancelled and a new card issued. No problem. He received his new card. At the next billing cycle, he noticed […]
September 06, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
My friend, being a sharp businessman, started thinking ahead as soon as he got the call. First, he insisted that before any product was shipped, the entire order needed […]
September 03, 2018 | Bill Brooks
Katherine called me the other day from an outfit named the American Breast Cancer Support Association. She was soliciting donations. They were calling using a 208 area code. When I asked her where she was really calling from, she admitted she was in Texas. Maybe the Idaho and Texas attorneys general should talk to each other and at least investigate the people behind this cruel ruse.
This group is, in my opinion, a total scam that uses breast cancer as a […]
August 30, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
Some “lots” of a commonly prescribed medicine, effective in treating high blood pressure, are being recalled by the FDA. This recall is for the drug Hydrochorothiazide, in 12.5 mg tablets.
The problem is, a small number of “lots” have been mislabeled. The drug that should be Hydrochorothiazide is actually 25 mg tablets of Spiroonolactone, a drug used to treat congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver and other ailments. The FDA says in its warning that the effects of mixing up these two medications […]
August 27, 2018 | Bill Brooks
There are many ways you can tell communication is a scam. Here are a few of them, in no particular order:
1. If the offer sounds too good to be true. Some consumer advocates say “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” I replace “probably” with “always.” You did not inherit money from a distant relative and you didn’t win the third prize in the Publisher Clearing House Sweepstakes.
2. If whomever contacts you insists you act NOW. Scammers want to get […]
August 23, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
First of all — agencies with the power to arrest you NEVER call you first. As a friend of […]
August 20, 2018 | By Bill Brooks
About three years ago, a consumer, not a member of Kootenai County Electric co-op, bought a super duper brand new water heater from Kootenai Electric Cooperative. Because he was not a member (he lives in the Silver Valley), he had to pay more than members of the co-op pay for the H2O heater. No problem.
After about a year, he said, one of the heating elements burned out. He drove over to the co-op’s office and bought a replacement.
Another year […]
August 16, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
One of the most accurate indicators of a fraudulent or at least questionable offer is when all fees or service charges are required to be paid upfront. In almost two full years of listening to customers’ stories, most of them that don’t end well begin with, “I paid all the fees or charges BEFORE I received the good or service.” Once they have your money, they don’t need you.
In addition, many companies sell bad […]
August 13, 2018 | By Bill Brooks
At least, quit relying on it for the truth about who is calling.
For years, the add-on caller ID (identification) was a highly useful function of any telephone, landline or cellular. Unfortunately, it has actually become a useful tool for crooks, scammers and spammers. VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) has turned caller ID from a useful add-on for consumers to an essential tool for the bad guys. It’s easy and cheap for the bad actors to […]
August 09, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
It seems he went to a charity auction and bid on a particular item. Knowing this man, he probably overbid intentionally because he is generous and the auction was for the benefit of a well-known and respected charity organization in our area.
Upon visiting the merchant who had “donated” the auction item, the winning bidder found that […]
August 06, 2018 | By Bill Brooks
Lo and behold, only a couple of days later, the couple […]
August 02, 2018| By BILL BROOKS
Fake bank drafts, account info phishing and account “verification testing” are some of the scams that begin with an unwary consumer receiving a small, almost unnoticeable deposit. The scammer finds your banking information online, and then sends a very small deposit to your bank account. Once the scammer confirms that […]
July 28, 2018 | Bill Brooks
Here we go again.
A very sharp businessman who owns a midsized, successful company in this area reported to me that he had just lost over a thousand dollars to a caller posing as an Avista employee. Here’s how it went down.
He got a call last week at his place of business from the fake Avista employee. She informed him that his regular payment hadn’t been received for the past couple of months. He said he’d look into the matter and get back to her. […]
July 26, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
In the past, a bunch of U.S.-produced meat was routinely shipped overseas to hungry markets. With the advent of current trade wars, that meat can only be sold to U.S. consumers. For example, China has slapped a 25 percent tariff on U.S. pork, and Mexico has applied a 20 percent tariff as well on U.S. pork.
With the arrival of tariffs and trade wars, consumers may notice a significant reduction in the per pound cost of meat and meat products. Time to stock up […]
July 23, 2018 |
I just got a call from a grandma in Post Falls. She wanted to tell me how she handled the “grandma call” — you know, the one where the caller pretends to be the consumer’s grandchild. This consumer had a unique way of shutting down the would-be scam artist.
Caller: “Hello grandma.”
Consumer: “I thought you were still in prison?”
She said it works every time!
REFI BUT CHANGE HABITS: As you know, we’re in another “up” cycle in the real estate market. Increased property values combined with historically […]
July 19, 2018| By BILL BROOKS
There’s an email going around the internet like a rash. In big splashy “Amazon” colors and copied fonts it announces that you have won a $100 gift certificate because you are a “good and faithful” customer. All you need to do is take a short three-question survey.
Your first clue should be the first question, “Do you like to shop online?” I guess if you’re naïve enough to think that’s a legitimate question to a legitimate survey, you’re just the kind of dupe the scammers […]
July 15, 2018 at 5:00 am |
We are writing to compliment you on your choice of publishing the thoughts and advice of Bill Brooks in your newspaper. We read his comments when published and have found his observations on current scam potentials to be most helpful to all of us “victims” of the world of preying scammers!
I recently called Bill in reference to some suspect mail that I had received and he reported back in a most timely fashion and confirmed my suspicions. Bill is a great service to […]
July 16, 2018 at 5:00 am |
A read of this column called me and reported the following attempted scam:
The consumer had a nice RV parked at his property. The other day, he noticed a car driving up and down his street, seemingly looking carefully at his RV. Within a short time, a man in his 30s knocked on his door and asked if the RV was for sale. It just so happens that the consumer was thinking about selling his RV. The consumer said no, but, for the right […]
July 12, 2018| By BILL BROOKS
New TSA rules mean some travelers will need to change the form of ID they are using before they hop on a plane. I have always shown my driver’s license, but beginning Oct. 1, 2020, you’ll need a passport or a Global Entry card (https://bit.ly/2vUH8qR), an enhanced driver’s license or a Real ID (https://bit.ly/2N1ZO0e).
While it’s true that the deadline is still more than two years away, you need to be aware of what documentation is required.
MY ADVICE: Take care of this now — you’ll […]
July 09, 2018 at 5:00 am |
MY ADVICE: Sit down at your computer and make a list […]
July 05, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
A service person agreed to fix a consumer’s hot tub. The guy never showed up. I tried to contact him and he ignored me. It’s pretty obvious that our economy is zooming along, but there are some downsides to a great economy. One is the availability and reliability of competent contractors.
From builders to those many of us rely on to fix hot tubs, do yard work and other odd jobs around the house, it seems that they’ve become rarer and more expensive. The […]
July 02, 2018 | By BILL BROOKS
My good friend Dennis Edelbrock sent me the following update on how to remove the dreaded and bogus Microsoft pop-up scam program. I routinely get one to five calls per day from consumers about pop-ups. The following is great information. Cut it out and tape it next to your computer:
“This is something I whipped up on the Computer Scams we have been seeing as of late. Sometimes, your “Just unplug it” doesn’t always work for those people with Windows 8 or Windows 10 […]