FBI: EMV cards still vulnerable to scammers

By the end of October, many banks will have dished out new microshipped debit and credit cards to consumers. Known as EMV cards, this new piece of technology provides cardholders with better security.

emv-credit-card-126313How you may ask? According to creditcards.com, every time an EMV card is used a unique transaction code is created that can’t be duplicated. This means if a hacker stole a code from a point of sale, they would be unable to use it and their any transaction would be denied.

But while this new high tech card does give consumers more piece of mind, there are flaws you should be aware of.

The FBI says an EMV chip “does not stop lost and stolen cards from being used in stores, or for online or telephone purchases when the chip is not physically provided to the merchant.” This is referred to as card-not-present transaction.

Plus, data in the magnetic strip that are on EMV cards can still be stolen. This can happen if a store has not upgraded to an EMV terminal and becomes infected with data-capturing malware.

BBB offers these tips to keep your information secure:

Use the EMV feature. If you’re at a store and notice you can use the EMV chip, do it. The EMV allows you to have a securer transaction and limits the chance of sensitive information being exposed.

Protect your cards. Better security doesn’t mean you should stop being cautious. Always handle your cards with care and make sure to look at your bank statements. Check to see if there are any irregular purchases.

Cover the keypad while entering your pin. Not every store will have upgraded to an EMV terminal. If you still have to enter your pin while making a purchase, make sure to shield the keypad. 

Posted in Consumer News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What to do when your scammer is overseas

When you’re the victim of a scam, the process of retrieving any monies lost can be difficult. But imagine that same process, but the scammer lives in a different country than you do.

You might have ordered a product from an overseas company or have been offered a lucrative vacation package. The problem is bringing the scammers to justice.

Luckily, there is an organization that can help. bbb_cybersecurity_image_800x400 Facebook

While consumers know to report scams to the Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission, many are not aware of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network.

So, who are they? It’s an organization made up of different consumer protection agencies from over 50 different countries.

Their website, econsumer.gov, offers consumers valuable information and gives you the ability to file a complaint.

When you file a complaint your information becomes entered into a database maintained by the FTC. According to the econsumer website, this information can then be used by different consumer protection agencies to investigate, uncover new scams, pursue regulatory or enforcement actions, and spot consumer trends.

The website also offers seven different languages other than English.

To learn more about the ICPEN, click here.

Posted in International Scams | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Texas felon charged with frauding loans to pay for personal expenses

A Texas ex-con with prior convictions of theft is facing charges of security fraud, theft, and money laundering.

According to the Texas State Securities Board, Larry David Eckenrode of McKinney allegedly used money from a short-term loan program to pay for his personal expenses.

The loans were made to international fuel businesses.

Eckenrode was previously convicted of felony theft in 1982 in Harris County. He was sentenced to 10 years in state prison and was ordered to pay $238,174 in restitution. He was also convicted in 2003

In January of this year, Eckenrode pleaded guilty to misapplication of fiduciary property or property of a financial institution. He was sentenced to 10 years to prison in Dallas County. He also was convicted in May of commercial bribery and sentenced to two years in prison, but was probated to five years.

Attorneys in the Enforcement Division of the State Securites Board will serve as special prosecutors in the case.

Posted in State lawsuits | Tagged , | Leave a comment

College students being targeted in phone scam

The FBI is warning college students around the country to be on the lookout for a phone scam.

The federal law enforcement agency said they have received multiple calls from various college campuses claiming a caller has identified themselves as someone from the federal government or a FBI agent. Student’s caller ID also showed the FBI’s official number.

According to the FBI, scammers are threatening college students with arrest and ineligibility of graduating if they fail to pay student loans, fees, or overdue parking tickets. Students are then asked to pay by wiring money through a MoneyGram.

Scammers will also say they have personal student information in order to get students to reveal more details about themselves.

Remember, the FBI does not call citizens requesting money and will never ask for personal information.

If you receive a call like this, report it to BBB’s Scam Tracker and file a complaint with the FBI.

Posted in Scam Alert | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

FTC: Businesses can’t sue because of a negative review

Reviews are essential for consumers looking to buy a product from a business. Although bad for a company, a negative review could help a customer’s decision to buy or walk away.

But what if a business threatens to sue consumers for posting a negative review after they have bought their product?

According to a recent Federal Trade Commission lawsuit, it’s against the law.

A complaint made by the FTC says Roca Labs Inc threatened legal action against customers who violated their non-disparagement clauses. The company was in the weight loss industry and marketed their products to people considering gastric bypass surgery. The federal agency said the business promised the same weight loss results as the medical procedure.

The clauses stated customers would have to pay full price for products they bought if they made any negative remarks against the company, costing consumers hundreds of dollars. If you decided to post a negative review anyway, Roca Labs Inc sued you. FTC said customers who saw legal action had their sensitive health information exposed in public court documents.

Here’s what a sample of the non-disparagement clause said:

“You agree that regardless of your personal experience with RL, you will not disparage RL and/or any of its employees, products, or services. This means that you will not speak, publish, or cause to be published, print, review, blog, or otherwise write negatively about RL, or its products or employees in any way.”

According to the FTC, Roca Labs conduct is in violation of the FTC Act.

Additionally, the federal agency claims the company’s promise that their products would limit one’s ability to eat were false. Roca Labs did not have any scientific evidence to prove this.

The lawsuit is currently pending in federal court in Florida.

Posted in FTC News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free money from the government? Don’t fall for that scam

How does receiving free money without paying it back sound? If you’re feeling this is too good to be true, then you’re on the right track.

Government grant scams trick consumers into believing they’ve qualified for a big sum of cash, without having to pay the money back. The Federal Trade Commission says the “free grants” offer to pay for education, bills, home repairs, and other expenses.

So how do con-artists get you on the phone? Some use classified ads in newspapers to advertise the grants. They provide a toll number for consumers to call in and receive information. However, the majority will call you out of the blue and say they are part of an agency that may sound official, but is fake.

According to the FTC, grant scammers will generally use these tactics to make you fall for their scheme:

They will call and congratulate you on becoming eligible to receive the grant. Next, they will ask for your bank account information in order to directly deposit the money. You will also be asked to pay a one-time processing fee

However, the grant money won’t be delivered and the fee you paid will be gone.

BBB offers these tips to avoid falling for this scam:

Don’t share personal bank account information. Scammers will pressure you into sharing this information to get into your pockets. Never give someone sensitive details unless you know who you are dealing with.

Don’t be fooled by the name of fake agency. A caller will make up the name of a government agency to convince you of falling for their scam. Doing a web search could result in finding out if the name of the agency is real or not.

Paying for a free grant doesn’t make sense. If you have to pay a fee in order to receive a grant, then it’s not free. According to the FTC, a real government agency won’t ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded — or to pay for a list of grant-making institutions.

Check out grants.gov. This website lists all federal grant-making agencies. It’s a great resource to look if a callers claims to offering a free grant from the federal government.

Posted in Scam Alert | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

BBB Investigation: Unlicensed movers leave customers with surprising costs

Moving is never an easy task. But choosing the right company to help in the process can make a big difference. Customers with Born 2 Move Movers, a San Antonio based company, were hoping to make their relocation easy. Instead, they claim the company’s business practices cost them hundreds of dollars.

Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin, has received 17 complaints against Born 2 Move Movers in the last three years. Complainants allege Born 2 Move Movers damaged furniture and personal items while loading them into their truck. Customers were told the company’s insurance would cover any damages. However, the business never gave customers documents to file an insurance claim.Born 2 Move Movers License

Customers also complain that the company arrived several hours late, asked for upfront payment during the move and found their items were damaged.

Tierra McCutcheon contracted Born 2 Move Movers in June. McCutcheon was moving from San Antonio to Fort Worth. She said the company arrived two and a half hours late. They also charged her $65 extra for moving her TVs and put a hole in the home she was leaving.

“I guess the mover lost balance and the dresser ran into the wall,” McCutcheon said. “I had to pay for it out of my own pocket because they wouldn’t get back to me.”

McCutcheon said the company also requested to be paid $200 upfront, something that was not discussed after she was quoted $1,200.

Dan Cavazos was looking for a moving company to haul his hot tub and antique jukebox to a vacation home in Helotes, Texas. He found Born 2 Move Movers online and decided to hire them after being quoted $300. Both items ended up being heavily damaged, costing him thousands of dollars.

“The jukebox had flipped over in the truck and the hot tub was ruined,” Cavazos said. “I tried calling the owner five or six times, but never got an answer. The jukebox is from 1948 and was appraised for $10,000. Everything was shattered, including records from the 1950s.”

BBB contacted the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, who said Born 2 Move Movers had their license revoked in 2012 because of an enforcement action. TxDMV said the company has not responded to their numerous calls.

“The public should always use caution when searching for a moving company. Cheaper is not always better,” said a TxDMV investigator.

BBB contacted the owner of Born 2 Move Movers. He admitted the company was not licensed. However, he insisted they only load and unload goods from trucks their customers rent. BBB also visited Born 2 Move Movers’ physical address at 11933 Perin Beitel Road #701, but found another business at the location.

When looking for a trustworthy mover BBB offers the following advice:

  • Check with BBB.Check the company’s BBB Business Review for its rating, complaint history and other valuable information.
  • Search Truck Stop. For in-state moves, companies must be licensed with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Consumers can search Truck Stop to find out if a company is licensed with the TxDMV. A registration number is provided to the moving company when it obtains its license. Ask any company you are considering for its registration number and check it in the database.
  • Check with the U.S. Department of Transportation.If moving to another state, check with S. DOT to view the company’s complaint history and safety record.
  • Don’t rely on a verbal agreement. Make sure any agreement between you and a mover is written into a contract. Once it is completed, review all documents before signing it.
  • Be sure your mover provides essential paperwork.Texas state law requires movers to provide consumers with the following:
    • A proposal containing a guaranteed price or a “not to exceed” estimate.
    • Written contracts before the move (detailing promised services, insurance coverage and price) and after the move (containing an itemized list of charges as well as the method used to calculate the charges.)
    • Standard liability of 60 cents per pound, per item and an option to purchase insurance over and above this minimum.
    • A brochure that outlines consumer rights under Texas law.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Secret shopping scam offers more risk than reward

Being paid to secret shop at some of your favorite stores may seem like the perfect job, but that may not always be the case.

Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin warns consumers that a secret shopping opportunity may seem real at first glance, but could potentially do more harm than good. Since the beginning of the year, secret shopping scams have been reported 34 times through BBB’s Scam Tracker.

Here is how they work.scam image

The scammer will send you a letter or email that says you have been selected as part of a secret shopping survey for different companies. The message will include a money order or check with a high dollar amount.

Your instructions are to deposit the money into your account and cash it right away. You will then have to use the cash to secret shop a specific business, but will be asked to only use some of the cash. The letter will say anything you buy can be kept and you are allowed to pocket up to 100 dollars as commission.

But here is where the scam starts.

The next assignment is to wire the remaining cash through a money transfer company to a third party. However, you are not allowed to inform anyone of this transaction. Once everything is completed, you fill out a report and send it to the company.

This is the problem, the money order is not real. Neither is the third party.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, banks are required by law to make the funds from deposited checks or money orders available within days. However, figuring out they are fraudulent could take banks several weeks.

Once your bank knows the check or money order is fake, you will be responsible for paying it back. Plus, you will be deducted the amount you deposited from your account.

BBB offers these tips to keep you from falling victim to these type of scam:

  • Research the business. If a company or organization is mentioned in an ad or interview, try to contact the company directly. A search through the Internet can result in reviews and comments about specific mystery shopping companies.
  • Look out for uncommon secret shopping practices. A legitimate secret shopping company will not charge you for working with them or ask you to wire money. Additionally, you do not need a certification to take the job.
  • Never accept money from strangers. Taking money from someone you do not know is a sure way to land you in trouble. Remember, never share personal information like bank or credit card numbers.

If you feel like you have been the target of a scam, remember to report it using BBB’s Scam Tracker.

Posted in Scam Alert, Scam Watch | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

FTC halts debt collection scam

An illegal debt collection scam that collected more than five million dollars from victims has been stopped by the Federal Trade Commission.

According to the FTC, the scammers tricked victims into believing they owed payday loans. Callers would harass consumers into paying the fake loans by posing as law enforcement or government agencies.

The settlement with Broadway Global Master bans them from ever being involved with  debt collection. Plus, money recovered by the FTC will be used to issue refunds for the victims.

The company’s owner, Kirit Patel, pleaded guilty on charges of criminal mail and wire fraud to the Department of Justice

He was sentenced to one year in person.

Getting a call from a debt collector can be intimidating, but there are ways to verify that the caller and company are real.

BBB offers these tips to keep you from getting scammed:

Ask more more information. Tell the caller you will not talk about any debt until you get a written validation notice. This notice includes the amount of debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Don’t give out your personal information. Unless you know who you are talking to, don’t give out your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number. Scammers can use this information to write fraudulent checks or take out loans in your name.

Contact your creditor. The debit could be legitimate, but the debt collector could not. If you have any doubts, call your creditor. Tell them information you have about the suspicious calls and find out if the creditor has authorized to collect the debt.

Posted in scam | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t be deceived when shopping green

If you’re looking to change your lifestyle to a more go green attitude, you’re probably going look out for products that have green seals.


These seals tell consumers their packaging is eco-friendly. That may mean its biodegradable, recyclable, or compostable. The problem is when companies don’t disclose what makes their products green.

Warning letters were sent out by the Federal Trade Commission to five providers of environmental seals and 32 businesses using those seals. The federal agency claims they alerted the companies that their seals could be deceptive and may not comply with the FTC’s green guides.

Green Guides are standards enforced by the FTC for companies when advertising environmentally friendly products.

What the green guides look for is clarity when companies say their products are green.

So if a product has an eco-friendly certification, it also must have what the seal or certification is based on and it has to be specific. If the item says biodegradable or recyclable, then it follows the green guidelines.

It’s not enough to have a product say eco-friendly or green.

Next time you’re shopping for green products, check to see if the advertising is clear on what makes them environmentally friendly. To see an example of clear green advertising, click here.

Posted in Advertising Advice | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment