Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Avoiding Scams Associated with New Medicare Cards

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

By Catherine Haug, May 23, 2018

As you’ve probably observed, scams seem to be the norm these days, and we need to stay sharp to avoid them. The latest scams exploit the new replacement Medicare Cards. Since many of ESP’s subscribers are Seniors, I thought sharing this info would be helpful.

The old/current cards use a version of your social security number, and scammers use that number to pretend to be you. So the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is creating new numbers for Medicare recipient, rather than using their SS number, to reduce exposure of your number to scammers.

But as you might have expected, scammers have already found ways to take advantage of this. Read on for information on what you need to know/do to avoid becoming a victim, and what to do if you suspect you have been victimized in this regard. (more…)

Recent phishing/scam email examples

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

By Catherine Haug, updated  Oct 2017  – see Example 3, below (originally published Jan 15, 2017)

In the last week I’ve gotten several phishing/scam emails, so I thought I’d share them with you to help you know how to recognize them.

Phishing is fishing for private information such as usernames, passwords and credit card accounts. Wikipedia (1) defines it as:

“the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.”

A scam is “fraudulent scheme performed by a dishonest individual, group, or company in an attempt obtain money or something else of value” according to the Business Dictionary (2).

The examples below appear to be from the trusted businesses: FedEx, USPS, and Earthlink. But if you look at the sender’s email address or other clues (see example 3 for example with several other clues), you can tell the sender is pretending, in an attempt to gain your trust and get your information. (more…)

How to protect yourself from identity theft (and 2017 credit reporting data breach)

Friday, September 8th, 2017

By Catherine Haug, Sept 8, 2017 ; updates: added SSN section on 9/10/17

Yesterday (Sept 7, 2017), Equifax announced it had a major credit breach affecting a vast majority of people in their database. The hackers got names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, some driver’s license numbers, and about 209,000 credit card numbers.
Your Social Security number (SSN) and date of birth allow hackers to open new accounts in your name but for their own use. Or they can use your existing accounts for their own purchases. Either way, someone eventually comes after you for payment. You could lose your money and government benefits (social security, medicare).
See the following for more information; most of the information in this post is from these sites:

Fraudulent emails from “cron-job”

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

By Catherine Haug, June 18, 2017 (screen captures of fraudulent email, below, taken by Catherine)

I’ve been getting at least 2 emails a day from an address that ends in @cron-job.org. Today’s was about bathroom remodel. These emails are each about a different topic of interest to people, to lure you into clicking the link. For several reasons, I believe these are all fraudulent – either they are phishing for my online information, or they contain a virus. See my earlier posts Online & smartphone security: Fraudulent Email and Recent phishing/scam email examples for more about these.

Why do I conclude this? What should I do? read on for more.

On another fraudulent scam: if you get a call pretending to be from the IRS, see my posting IRS scam, and what to do about it. (more…)

Help protect wildlife and their habitat – in your yard and community

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Soapberry Shrub

By Catherine Haug, June 14, 1017 (Photo, right, of a native shrub in my yard, is by Catherine)

We all love our wildlife, and there are lots of things you can do to help protect them, right in your yard. The following recommendations come from the Wildlife Land Trust (1) [with comments by me or other members of our team in square brackets]. Note that some of the recommendations also help you, like bat houses.

In your home and yard:

  • Seek humane solutions when a conflict arises with wildlife in your home or yard.
  • Support migratory birds and other wildlife by replacing unused areas of lawn with native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses that provide food and cover. [This is especially important if your ‘yard’ covers more than a couple acres. For more about Montana Native trees and other plants, the Montana Native Plant Society (2), Montana NativePlants for Pollinator-Friendly Plantings (3), Native Yards (4)].
  • [Don’t feed deer, but plant some native shrubs that deer like to graze].
  • Maintain a birdbath with clean, fresh water to help your backyard birds and migrating birds needing a rest stop.
  • Install bat houses — happy bats, fewer bugs! [See National Wildlife Federation for how to build your own bat house (5)].

Read on for more recommendations.

(more…)

‘IRS’ scam and what to do about it

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

By Catherine Haug, Sept 28, 2016; Updated Jun 19, 2017 and Mar 18, 2017

I’ve now gotten two of those calls, and it is likely that everyone – especially senior citizens – will get at least one of them. Normally I don’t pick up the phone unless I recognize the number. The first one  (9/28/2016) was a 509 area code, which is just across the Columbia River from where I lived in Portland, and is where many of my former coworkers with whom I exchange Christmas cards, live. So I picked it up.

On the other end of the line was a recorded message that went something like this:

This is (male name), an IRS officer. Did you know there is a legal petition filed against you? Call me back immediately at 509-983-0040.

The second call (3/17/17) was with a female voice, but did not give a name. She said:

an arrest warrant has been issued. Call me back immediately at 907-891-8644.

If you get one of these calls, DO NOT CALL THE NUMBER. Note, there are many different scam numbers they use. I got two more calls in June 2017 giving the following numbers: 662-214-8288 and 330-954-6946, respectively.  On the first of those calls, the voice said, “you and your property are being watched,” which is a clear threat that you should also report to the county sheriff or city police.

When I got the first call, my first thought was, “I wonder if this is that IRS scam I’ve heard about on the news?” So I googled the number, and got this: Scam Call Fighters (1), where it says: (more…)