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                        Making Payments Through Websites, Western Union and Green Dot Cards

                        Thieves are becoming extremely sophisticated. I like to think that I will never be outsmarted by these lazy thugs and, to date, I haven’t been. I recently had a close call however that I think you can learn from.

                        The bottom line lesson:

                        If you are going to be making a payment for something online, never make it unless you have gone directly to that website! Do not follow links that ultimately result in your input of your bank or credit card information.

                        Why? I recreantly got notification from Verizon Wireless, via my Verizon Wireless cell phone, about a payment that was due to them. This notification popped right up on my phone and looked 100% official to include the amount due being in very close range of what my bill normally is and it included official Verizon logos. This notification was to inform me that my payment was late and was now immediately due in order to avoid account suspension if not paid immediately - that day! It also said that the only option for payment, due to their numerous, unsuccessful attempts to collect from was via credit card.

                        While I thought I had made my payment I questioned whether, or not, it had actually been received by Verizon or the potential that I had not made it as I had thought. Luckily, I elected to call Verizon to inquire and found that I did not have a payment due and everything was ok with my account.

                        The bottom line is that scammers are getting very sophisticated. We receive regular reports of people falling victim to them and, once they become a victim, they will remain a victim as most of these scams originate overseas and investigation, as a result, is basically impossible. And when I learn of some of the methods being used, I am extremely surprised and many times wonder if I would’ve picked up on them myself.

                        Also, never make payments to anyone that you do not know personally, to include utilities and credit card companies, via Western Union, Green Dot Cards or anything similar to these - no matter what you are told or threatened with!

                        We recently had a local resident who was called on the phone and the scammer represented himself as an employee of our local power company. He told the victim that their payment was late, which it was, and that a crew was actually enroute to cut their power. The scammer told the victim that an immediate payment must be made via a Green Dot Card and that this was the only option available to avoid power shutoff. Unfortunately, because the victim actually had a payment past due, they did as they were instructed and fell victim to the tune of almost $1000.

                        Its unfortunate that Western Union and other like companies will not fix a problem that they are completely capable of fixing. Heres how these companies work:

                        You go to a Western Union or Green Dot location and deposit money with them. They, in turn, provide you with a transaction number that you then provide to the intended recipient. As long as the recipient has this transaction number, they can go to any of thousands of locations worldwide and retrieve the funds. You do not have to specify a retrieval location.

                        All these companies have to do to avoid being the primary tools in these scams is require a specified pick-up location and positive ID.

                        Again: Be extremely careful and skeptical of everyone asking for your money. Everyone is a potential victim and thieves are getting more and more sophisticated and difficult to detect.

                        Published Jan 02, 2014

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