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Ask the Expert: Get tips to protect yourself and your family from scams and fraud

Scams are constantly changing and often unique, raising questions like whether you’ve been targeted. AARP Expert Amy Nofziger is here thru April 26th providing answers, as well as sharing important tips to help you stay safe.

 

**Learn & Earn with AARP Rewards: When you post a question for our expert, you're eligible to earn 50 points via code emailed to you.

 

Thanks for being here, we look forward to your questions!

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Since I have phone and tv cable service bundled, when I get an incoming call and the tv is on, the caller ID shows up on my tv screen, which allows me to ignore calls from numbers I don't recognize. I have not answered the phone from unknown callers, nor from clients without an appointment time for calling in many many years.  And I have Robokiller app on my cell phone so I don't get spam calls there either.

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AARP Expert

@DeahWA I love that service, I have it too on my TV. It is helpful to know who is calling, especially when I'm watching a good movie! Thank you for your tip!

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Our mobile number has become part of how we authenticate our identity with financial and health care institutions. Many do not use authentication apps. Even when they do the mobile number is still considered a trusted source. 

 

Knowing any site can be hacked I started to use Google voice as my phone for text verification on sites unrelated to personal financial or health care. Unfortunately Google voice is recognized as a landline and as such may get rejected. Maybe assuming a text message cannot be sent.

Unfortunately AARP will not allow me to use Google voice.  It should be easy to change the system to still reject landline numbers but accept a Google voice number for text verification.  As an organization very sensitive to security I wish this policy was changed. 

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@anofziger17, same here! If it's a number I don't recognize, I'm not picking up. My feeling is, if it's important the caller will leave a message (for example, starting up with a new healthcare provider and I haven't yet added them to my address book). Additionally, if I receive repeat, unwanted calls on my mobile from the unrecognizable number then I take minute and "block" the caller.

 

This brings me to another thought. Isn't there a "do not call" list for mobile phones, just like landlines? I've heard that it helps to refresh that request from time-to-time. What are your thoughts on that?

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@AARPLynne Yes, you can register your cell number on the DNC list as well. go to donotcall.gov for registration information. This list does not expire so you don't need to refresh it. But you can always verify your registration at the website https://www.donotcall.gov/

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@anofziger17, I have been notified that my SSN, Email, and phone number is on the dark web.

 

What steps should I take to address this?

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@WilliamM782125 Thank you for your question. It certainly can be startling when we hear this information. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure safety of your information. First, let me be clear. Most of us have information on the dark web. If you have ever been part of a data breach, your information is out there. Sadly, it seems unavoidable. My first step would be for you to get a copy of your free credit report to ensure there are no fraudulent accounts opened in your name. You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com to access your FREE credit report. Once you review, then it would be wise to freeze your credit. You will need to take some time and have a notebook with you to do this. You'll want to write down the user name and passwords for each credit bureau and then keep this in a safe place. Follow this link to the FTC for the steps on how to freeze your credit. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs

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Hello Amy,

 

For several months I have used the tech support services of a company called A-One Tech.  In the process of performing tech support services, A-One Tech had access to my computer.  I frequently monitor my checking account, investment account, and credit card account to see if everything is OK, and thus far the accounts are stable since using A-One Tech services.

 

However, since reading the article about tech support scammers in April 2021 issue of the AARP Bulletin, I am concerned about using the tech support services of A-One Tech:

 

1.) How can I check the legitimacy of A-One Tech?  I have the phone number 1-808-319-4200, email address 'support@aonetech.online', and address 4102 Auncan Ave., Las Vegas, NV. 89128 of the company.

2.) How can I check if my computer has been compromised?

3.) Since the company had access to my computer could they have installed something like a Trojan horse software that could be initiated in retaliation if I stop payment and service with the company?

3.) Are there any actions you recommend I do?

 

Thanks, Phil Maresca (a long time member of AARP)

 

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@PhillipM819896 Hmmm, I can't find anything about them anywhere. Their number isn't connecting to a business and it's a Hawaii area code, but if their address is in Las Vegas, I would think a company would have the home based area code. Also I called the number and got a generic voicemail, and again any legit company would have business and professional voicemail. Plus their address if showing up no where on the internet, I can't even find their address exists. So all signs point to an impostor tech company to me. Sorry to tell you that. But it has all the red flags. I would first cancel your subscription with them, by stopping the payment via your form of payment. If it's the credit card, call them and tell them to stop the reoccurring payments. Also I would take your computer into a local place near you like a big box office or electronics store that has in-person tech services and ask them to run a complete scan of your computer, usually about $150. And then ask them to make sure your malware support is up to date. Also, since you check your credit reports often, you should be good to go there. 

Let me know if you have any other questions. AMY

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 i would like to report about a company call Digital Mechanics, a friend of my is fed up with this company. They always use to call them and ask for money by making him afraid, can you please do something about Digital Mechanics.

These guys from Digital Mechanics are totally fraud just keep on asking for money and is there a number my friend can reach you it would help him alot.

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AARP Expert

@HarkinsD757265 thank you for your report. Please let your friend know they can always report any company that you think is operating fraudulently to ic3.gov or ftc.gov as well.

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Hello Amy,

 

Thank you for the very thorough investigation of the info I sent regarding my concern that a tech support company, A-One Tech, I have worked with might be a scammer.  I have stopped credit card payment to the company, and they responded with the following info to try and prove they are a legitimate company:

 

Headquarters Address: 258 Union Ave., Framingham, MA. 01702

phones - 1-818-518-9400 & 1-808-319-4200

Website - www.aonetech.online 

 

Today I am taking my MacBook Air into the Apple Store for a complete scan and update of malware.  You have been very helpful.

               Cheers, Phil Maresca

 

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@anofziger17, I recently ignored a call from an unknown phone number on my cell phone. 

 

They subsequently left a voicemail, which I listened to.  The voice of a nice sounding grandma type person said "Good Saturday Afternoon <my first 'very common' name>  this is Janet A in Arizona.  When you get a minute, please give me a call, I just have some news I want to pass on to you, so please give me a call at your earliest convenience.  Hope you've been fine, staying well and taking care of yourself period God Bless you period Hope to hear from you soon bye bye"

 

Who says period????

 

After mulling over the message a bit.  I called the number from my landline which should show up as 'anonymous' since it is a blocked number.  I asked her who she was looking for and she came up with a last name that was not mine...I did not share my last name, but told her that I was not who she was looking for.  She said that they had a death in the family and were trying to connect with this person who had recently moved to Mesa.

 

Was this a phishing call?  What did they get from me except that the cell number they called was good?  Is my cell phone number somehow compromised now?

 

Pretty sad when you can't even trust someones grandmother.  I hate being so paranoid!

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AARP Expert

@ChrisS569569 Wow that is odd. I bet she was doing a voice texting sort of voicemail and that is why it said "period" but still so odd. Sometimes, these calls are just phishing as you say, but it might have also been a phantom debt collector looking for information, maybe even for someone with a similar name to yours. We have heard about a lot of these lately where these unscrupulous debt collectors are buying debt history, which most of it has been already paid. But they are using it to scare you. I recently had a woman who DID have a $7k debt from a credit card many years ago, but paid it off, and there is no history of it on her credit card or credit report, but they called her and told her the debt was sold to them and they were collecting on it. They had the correct name of the credit card, etc we were very demanding with her which scared her. But who knows, it could have been someone looking for someone with a name like yours, who did have a death in the family. I wouldn't be worried about your cell phone being compromised, especially if at no point you allowed them or downloaded anything on it at their direction. Hope this eases your mind. AMY

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Weird is the key word. Just last week I received a "weird" phone call stating that there were concerns regarding my.............The teleprompter voice of the "woman" sounded like they had overdosed on male hormones. Next what came to my mind is I don't know this person and this person doesn't know me. So I hung up the phone ( or ignore the voicemail as in your case) like a miracle the weirdness was gone!

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Periodic Contributor

Hi Amy,

I have placed an order with an online shopping site ( Lakefeesc.com ) because the price for the item was, lets say very low maybe to low. As I have just finished reading the AARP Bulletin of 4/2021 Vol. 62 No. 3 about the " Fake Online Shopping Sites " and I have a feeling this might be one of those sites. I placed the order on 4/4/21 and the site is still showing that the order is pending but the payment to Papal has been processed. In addition there was never a conformation e-mail sent to verify the order.

 

Today I sent an email to the " contact us " link ( venus@cukter.com ) to request the order be canceled and a refund be sent to the Papal account.  I know its a bit early to receive a reply back from them but I felt the need to make this post and needed to see if this was one of the sites mentioned in the AARP Bulletin.  Or if anyone else has made a purchase from them.

 

I did check on BBB.org but could not find any listing for this company.

 

I was wondering if I just need to wait and see what happens next?  Your thoughts would be helpful.

 

My Best Regards,

 

Doug Oconnor
AARP Member

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AARP Expert

@DougO144578 From doing some research online, I think you're going to need to go ahead and ask PayPal to refund your money. It appears this website has had some negative reviews and many people have suspicions about it. Was this product that you ordered initially found via social media? there are reports that most other people found it that way and that they might clone 'real' items that are on sale with legitimate websites but for lower prices to entice you in. https://www.signal-arnaques.com/en/scam/view/316093

Let me know if you need any other help. 

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Periodic Contributor

Hi Amy,

Thank you for your reply and information.  The web site in question was found during a google search for the item.  I found more than a few of the sites listing the product search for a ( Rivarossi 3016 GE U25C HO Diesel Engine ).  The MSRP is about 175.00 and these different sites have it listed for between 38.00 and 48.00 some with free shipping.  Yes the lesson is if it seems to good to be true.........It is, Trust me.

Thanks Again

D

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Hi Amy,

The resolution is that all the information was sent to PayPal and a refund was made.  Thank you again for all your help.  On line shoppers.....review everything regarding your on line shopping, when you happy its all good.....look over your shoulder if its really clear then click "pay now".

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Hi Amy,

Just a little added information from my google searching.  Today I wanted to see how many sites had this item, ( U25C DCC Ready #3016 HO Scale Locomotive HR2538 ), available for sale at a very low price.  It lists for around 175.00 to 212.00 on most well known model train sites.  The following sites listed this item for between 32.00 and 48.00 usd.  There were about a dozen links but they all lead to these sites.  Some of them might be ok but I'm thinking buyer beware.

 

monypaidn.com, dtredstone.com, eholidax.com, lakefeesc.com, kaodedu.com, wendoardio.com

 

I am now looking for reviews of them.  Just my penny's worth.  Be safe.

D

 

 

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AARP Expert

@DougO144578 Thanks for this. I talked to a consumer yesterday that had a very similar situation but with sneakers. He did a search found a website where the price was way too low. He was so excited to get a good deal, the red flags were missed. Luckily he was able to file a dispute with his credit card company. 

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AARP Expert

@DougO144578 Glad it worked out and thanks for the great tips for our other community members. AMY

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Glad it worked out and great advice for our other community members. 

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Conversationalist

@WilliamM782125, as you know criminal activity takes place on that site. All your info is out there. First thing I would do is freeze my credit.Contact your finicial institutions and contact the police they may have a unit for this good luck.

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About Amy: Amy Nofziger (@anofziger17) has been educating consumers about avoiding scams and fraud for 19 years. Amy manages the AARP Fraud Helpline as part of the AARP Fraud Watch Network and is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). She has appeared on or been interviewed by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports, Live with Kelly and Ryan, and many others to help shed light on fraud and the exploitation of older adults.

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