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  1. Gas Station Skimmers

    Leave ‘em in the dust. We recently wrote about gas station “skimmers”: undetectable chips that thieves connect to credit/debit card readers to steal your information when you run your magnetic strip at the pump. It turns out there’s now a way to fight back, in the form of a free Android app called Skimmer Scanner that can detect the nasty little things (by the Bluetooth technology they use to swipe your data) and alert you if there are any nearby. So gas up and go, without the worry!
  2. Seize the day!

    Seize the day! Hope you didn’t think the Equifax debacle was over, because scammers are in it for the long haul, milking the massive data breach for all it’s worth. Currently, they’re calling credit holders pretending to be with the beleaguered company (but we wouldn’t be surprised to see email and text solicitations soon as well). The opportunists claim they must “validate your account information”—and they’re good impersonators, so even if the number on your caller ID says “Equifax,” hang up! The company won’t be calling or emailing you out of the blue; they’ve got their hands full with millions of angry customers and an FTC investigation that we hope leads to some real action against any company that fails to protect customer data. At any rate, for real info on how to protect your info from the breach, click here.
  3. BS detector

    BS detector. Did you know that some wireless phone carriers offer scam detection for free? Often, getting it is as easy as asking for the service, which warns you with a phrase like “scam likely” when an incoming call originates from a sketchy number. From AT&T to Verizon, the website Lifehacker outlines the different phone companies, what they offer and if it’s gonna cost you. Check it out and see if your phone is covered!
  4. Online hotel booking scams

    It pays to be picky. Online hotel booking scams upset on average around 15 million bookings annually. In our excitement to score a good deal, it’s safe to say we may be rushing things a little, and it’s leading us to fall for the first (bad) deal we find. The problem of scam hotel sites is so ubiquitous that Congress recently took up legislation to stop criminals from bilking $1.3 billion from consumers annually (the current rate of money lost in bad bookings). Before clicking the mouse and agreeing to make a reservation, make sure that the site you’re on is legitimate and dependable (you know, like an Expedia or a Hotwire), or just book directly with the hotel (many will match the price you found online). And remember, even if a site has a trusted logo, it could be a fake. So check, and then double check, before you check in.
  5. Serving up food fraud

    But Gatorade’s got electrolytes! In what could be a scene straight out of Idiocracy, the makers of Gatorade decided to get creative and create a mobile video game called “Bolt!,” featuring a cartoon character of Olympic runner Usain Bolt. In the game, Bolt runs faster when he touches sugar-laden Gatorade icons and slower when he reaches plain ol’ wholesome water, with text reinforcing the message: “Keep your performance level high by avoiding water.” The game was heavily promoted to children and teens on social media. Eventually, its “misleading [water] statements” trickled down to California’s attorney general, who sued and reached a settlement with the company (to the tune of $300,000) for violating the state’s consumer protection laws and engaging in “beyond awful” advertising to children. The settlement also forbids the sports drink maker from talking smack about H20 in future ads. Made with love. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) had to give a bakery the bad news that a human emotion cannot be a listed ingredient in a food product. Massachusetts-based Nashoba Brook Bakery got cutesy and added “love” as one of the ingredients in its granola. The company’s chief executive is describing the government’s subsequent cease-and-desist warning as Orwellian and accusing the cold-hearted regulators of failing to see how “nice” it is that an artisan bakery can claim a product is made with love. Unfortunately, Nashoba’s products might also be made with bugs (lovebugs?). The FDA’s inspection of its premises noted numerous health violations, including a “crawling insect” hanging out with the “focaccia breads, 7-Grain rolls, and brioche rolls.” Damaging more than your waistline. Decadent bacon double-cheeseburgers and banana cream pie shakes aren’t the only things SONIC, America’s Drive-In is serving up. If you’ve visited the chain recently you may have also bought yourself some identity theft. SONIC joins the disgraced ranks of Equifax, Yahoo and many other companies that have been impacted by massive data breaches. SONIC’s payment systems were hacked, resulting in up to five million credit and debit card accounts potentially being “peddled in shadowy underground cybercrime stores,” according to security site KrebsOnSecurity. If you’ve pulled up to SONIC’s drive-in, it’s time to pull up your credit and bank account statements to see if there’s been any illicit activity.
  6. It’s high time unscrupulous payday lenders got called out for what they really are: professional defrauders. While payday lending isn’t illegal, consumers need protection from the all-too-common loans charging upwards of 300% interest rates and trapping consumers in a cycle of debt. Fortunately, the government is finally getting serious about cracking down on the debt traps. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued its final payday lending ruleearlier this month. And the Justice Department has gotten on board, charging payday loan shark Charles Hallinan with racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and fraud. Hallinan maneuvered to get around sensible state and federal regulations and charge those in a bind 800+% interest rates on loans (through a myriad of companies, like “Tele-Ca$h,” “Instant Cash USA” and “Your Fast Payday”)—pretty par-for-the-course in the payday industry. We’re currently working with a big coalition to stop people like Hallinan, and you can help by contacting your reps in Congress to voice your support for the CFPB rule protecting consumers from the payday loan treadmill (learn more here).
  7. Bitcoin buyer beware

    They say that no press is bad press, but that may not be true for Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency has been getting a lot of negative publicity lately, with both the Wolf of Wall Street and the CEO of JPMorgan (ahem, they’re two different people) calling the digital dollars a “fraud.” The investors’ concerns stem from the fact that the increasingly popular monetary system currently has no government backing and is based on “artificial scarcity.” Despite this lack of government support, federal regulators are certainly taking notice of Bitcoin. Last month, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission charged a hedge fund company with fraud, misappropriation, and issuing false account statements in its operation of what they called a “Bitcoin Ponzi scheme” that bilked $60,000 out of investors. Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission recently charged both a real estate and diamond sales company with defrauding investors after prompting them to sink money into an “initial coin offering” (ICO), the first of its kind. A New York Times columnist described ICOs: “Imagine that a friend is building a casino and asks you to invest. In exchange, you get chips that can be used at the casino’s tables once it’s finished. Now imagine that the value of the chips isn’t fixed, and will instead fluctuate depending on the popularity of the casino, the number of other gamblers and the regulatory environment for casinos. Oh, and instead of a friend, imagine it’s a stranger on the internet who might be using a fake name, who might not actually know how to build a casino, and whom you probably can’t sue for fraud if he steals your money and uses it to buy a Porsche instead.” Buyer beware!
  8. Netflix and bill

    It’s a brave new world out there, one with video and audio streaming, the sharing economy, online shopping, and other modern conveniences ripe for scamming. If it’s not Amazon in a con artist’s crosshairs then it’s Netflix (or another company)—and this month it’s Netflix. If you get an email from supportnetflix(at)checkinformation(dot)com, you should back away faster than you would from an episode of “Fuller House.” The email will tell you that there’s been a “billing” error and, of course, you need to update your payment details (sigh…typical). Clickhere to see what the dreaded email looks like. (But don’t click on the email itself. If you do, it pops up in your inbox and they have you.) In a nutshell, the email will prompt you to click on a link to a look-alike site or to respond with your credit card number or banking info (once you do, the rest, of course, is history). Note: Netflix will never prompt you for your email, your password, financial information, Social Security number or any other information that scammers typically want. And if you’re worried that you haven’t paid and you’re about to be shut out of your account and miss the much-hyped “Stranger Things 2,” by all means log in to Netflix ASAP and make sure that you’re squared away. (Don’t call Netflix based on a phone number that pops up when you Google it; scammers have that one covered too and are posting phony customer support contact info online.)
  9. Odious opportunists

    Scammers know no bounds when it comes to exploiting horrific events. Last month it was widespread hurricane destruction; this month, the mass shooting in Las Vegas. The tragedy sadly but predictably brought scammers out from under their rocks. A throng of bogus GoFundMe and other crowdsourcing pages sprung up in its wake (as did a number of fake charities), leading attorneys general in multiple states to issue warnings. (Pro tip: GoFundMe is vetting legitimate pages to support Vegas victims and listing them on its site.) It’s not just online operations defrauding the compassionate—be wary of “fundraising” attempts by phone as well. If a telemarketer calls claiming to be with firefighters or the police, for instance, let the caller know you’ll call the department back directly (and don’t give any personal or financial info to the solicitors). And if you get a text prompting you to donate (the American Red Cross is known to use this outreach tactic), make sure that it’s really the organization you want to help by verifying its number. In summary: Always double check by directly contacting the organization you’re interested in donating to. And be careful: Even a trusted organization’s website can be mimicked by slightly altering the URL (for instance, reddcross(dot)org with two “d”s—see how easy that was?). If you’re worried about the website, there are many ways to confirm that a charity is real, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) points out. But what if a shameless charlatan hascontacted you? If you think they’re operating locally, let your state attorney general know. If the operation’s even bigger (read: national), let the FTC know.
  10. 2008 Cadillac CTS

    I replaced my cabin air filter today with a better quality washable filter.... When I opened it up... I was angered to see that Jiffy Lube just threw the old one in there and did not slide it into position with the guides as seen below. The old one was all moldy and was useless since it wasn't in position. Don't use Jiffy lube to replace Cadillac cabin air filters. rrrrrrrr This is how to do it by the way:
  11. Former President Obama spoke at a forum hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on about global poverty, climate change, disease, and Republican efforts in Congress to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. After his speech he spoke with Bill and Melinda Gates about issues of messaging, leadership, and the role of global institutions concerning global challenges.
  12. Talk about alcohol making for "shifty" characters. Was he ticketed for driving while under alcohol? da da dum....
  13. Dotard: an educational insult

    I've now learned a new word.... wow.... I don't think I will be able to use this in everyday life though.. "Old beast lunatic"??? Hmmm..