SCAM WARNING FROM OFFICE OF CONSUMER PROTECTION (September 13, 2012)
Two scams are circulating through Montana which fraudulently use the Microsoft name. Cyber-criminals and scam artists often use the name of well-known and trusted corporations as a way to garner personal information and money from unsuspecting victims. Scammers have been targeting Montanans in these Microsoft scams, using both email and telephone communications. Please familiarize yourself with these scams and spread the word to your friends and family.
Steve Bullock, Montana Attorney General
COMMON SCAMS THAT USE THE MICROSOFT NAME FRAUDULENTLY:
- The “Microsoft Lottery” sends you an award letter: The Microsoft Award letter is a new twist on an old theme: Scammers are trying to trick recipients of the letter into believing they have won a large sum of money from Microsoft Corporation. In fact, there is no such thing as a “Microsoft Lottery.” This letter is a scam with the intended purpose of stealing the recipient’s identity by gathering their personal information. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Someone from “Microsoft Tech Support” calls to fix your computer: In this scam, which has especially targeted elderly Montanans, cyber-criminals call and claim to be from Microsoft Tech Support. They offer to help solve a citizen’s computer problems. Once the crooks have gained your trust, they attempt to steal from you and damage your computer with malicious software including viruses and spyware. Although law enforcement can trace phone numbers, perpetrators often use pay phones, disposable cellular phones, or stolen cellular phone numbers. It’s better to avoid being conned rather than try to repair the damage afterward. Treat all unsolicited phone calls with skepticism. Do not provide any personal information. If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support, hang up. Microsoft soes not make these kinds of calls.
This notice was reproduced from “Scan Alerts,” a project of the Montana Department of Justice.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: NEWS RELEASE (posted by DOJ on August 22, 2012 in Press Release)
BULLOCK, BILLINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT WARN OF DEBIT CARD SCAM
Attorney General Steve Bullock and the Billings Police Department are warning Montanans – particularly those in the Billings and Whitefish areas – of a scam targeting banking and credit union members with credit or debit cards.
The scam artists call Montanans claiming to be from the citizen’s bank or credit union. The scammer says the individual’s credit or debit card has been cancelled and the person must call a number to rectify the situation. When the victim calls, they are asked a list of questions soliciting their personal financial information – information that can be used to assume the identity of the victim and use their funds to make unapproved purchases.
“People think they’re talking to their own credit union; they give out sensitive, personal information they would never otherwise share,” Bullock said. “When it comes to stopping scams, knowledge is power. I encourage Montanans to share this information with their friends and family and to call my Office of Consumer Protection if they have any concerns at all.”
The Office of Consumer Protection is within the Attorney General’s Office and has also received multiple reports of the scam. The office can be reached at 1-800-481-6896.
Tracking down the scammers behind the con is next to impossible, said Billings Police Det. Brett Lapham. The scammers are using either disposible cell phones or utilizing a computer technology that generates fake telephone numbers, he said, making it virtually impossible to tell where the calls are really coming from.
Like Bullock, Lapham urged people to know and share the details of the scam and be wary of phone calls that sound similar.
“The more we spread the word about this, the less power the scammers will have,” Lapham said.
So far, the scam has been known to involve the members of two Billings credit unions and a third in Whitefish. It is nearly identical to a scam that went through the state earlier this year.
July 16, 2011
Skilled professional criminals are using sophisticated technologies to easily defraud individuals and their credit unions using a copy of a check and/or an individual’s personal information. A thief is able to create new, authentic looking checks using a blank check or personal information obtained from an intercepted check mailed to pay a bill. Common-sense and a logical approach with the way an individual uses and stores checks can help reduce the risk of this type of loss.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO MEMBERS TO HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF CHECK FRAUD
- Keep your account information confidential and never provide your account number or personal information to unknown persons. Be particularly cautious of unsolicited phone sales.
- Reconcile your bank statement as soon as possible after receipt (within 20 days) to detect any irregularities. Delays may subject you to liability for any losses due to check fraud.
- Protect your checks. Store your checkbook, blank checks, deposit slips and bank statements in a secure location.
- Don’t leave blank spaces on the payee or payment amount lines on your checks.
-Monitor check orders to ensure they are received timely and immediately verify that all checks were received with the order.
- Mail bill payments through the Post Office and not from your mailbox at home. Seeing the upright red flag on your home box is a favorite signal for criminals to look in the box and steal whatever is there.
- Do not add personal information on your check (Social Security#, Driver’s License# or DOB).
- Destroy (shred) cancelled checks (if received), account statements and deposit tickets unless needed for tax purposes.
- Use your own pre-printed deposit slips and make sure the account number on your slip is correct. Thieves have made attempts to alter deposit slips at drive-up windows in the hope that bank representatives will not notice with the result that the funds are deposited into the thief’s account.
- Don’t ever make a check payable to cash and also, never endorse a check until you are ready to cash the item or make the deposit. If lost or stolen, a check made payable to cash may be legally and rightfully cashed by anyone.
- If someone pays you with a cashier’s check, be cautious and if possible, have them accompany you to the bank to cash the item. If you need to accept a check for payment, do so during normal business hours so you can verify with the financial institution that it is legitimate. Make sure you obtain identification information from the individual.
- If your home is burglarized, determine if any checks have been stolen. Look closely because thieves will take checks from the back or middle of your checkbook to avoid immediate detection.