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Pure Vermont Newsletter January 2017
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The Pure Vermont Newsletter
     By the Attorney General's Consumer Assistance Program                                      JANUARY 2017

Traveling Smart During Winter Vacation

If it's time for you to escape on a winter getaway, keep in mind that scammers love to target those with travel plans. Vacations should be relaxing. Don't let unexpected scams and travel pitfalls stress you out!  

Island Getaway

There are countless ways one can be scammed while traveling. And, though you may feel you are savvy and not a typical target of scams, your tourist outfit will put a bullseye on your back. With all the scheduled R&R you have planned, no one wants to be bogged down worrying about scams. This mindset is what scammers rely on to bilk you of your money. While traveling, you don't have to stress every minute about the possibilities, but it will help to keep the following scenarios in mind so that you don't find yourself in a more stressful situation.  

    -If you are notified about unauthorized credit card charges, check-in with the credit card issuer by calling the number on the back of your card. You might not be checking your statement history, but your credit card company generally understands your purchasing trends and may have fraud protection in place to alert you if they suspect an issue.  

    -If you are renting a vehicle, know the ins and outs of your own auto insurance coverage. The rental agency will typically offer to sell you their insurance, so be prepared for this when you step up to the reservation desk. Protect yourself further from rental accident damage fraud by photographing the vehicle with on-site identifiers in the background (this is handy if you don't have a date feature on your camera) both at the time of the initial rental and upon return. That way, if there is a damage dispute, you have photo proof of how the vehicle appeared while in your possession.  

        -Free Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi that is not password protected could be problematic. Don't sign into your accounts while using free or unsecure Wi-Fi. Why? You just don't know who is watching your moves online.  Keying your password into an account may seem harmless, but scammers tracing your steps can log back into your account later and access everything. Sure, it's nice to have free Wi-Fi, but use it to check the news or browse tourist attractions, not to do your online banking.

    -While in a foreign country, you are asked if you would like the total to be displayed in US dollars. If you say yes, the exchange rate may not be based on the actual currency rate, but based on the rate in the retailer's system.  The retailer receives any amount you pay over the actual exchange rate and you could be charged a conversion fee as well.  Credit cards convert the foreign exchange rate based on the actual currency exchange rate, which is more accurate and doesn't favor either party. 
  
    -For more tips, perform an online search of the area you are planning to visit with "scams" in the search bar as well. This will help you to be knowledgeable about scams that may be more prevalent in a specific location.  

More Tips to Avoid Travel Scams!

  • Practice safe internet browsing
  • Ask details about what is included in prices and look for hidden fees
  • Always do your own outside research before accepting the word of the person engaged in selling
  • If booking online, verify that you are using a credible website and double-check that you are on the correct site, rather than a copycat


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For Businesses:  


Business Telephone Rerouting Scams 


If your business is suddenly not receiving as many calls as usual, scammers could be intercepting calls intended for your business. When a customer calls you, they will be redirected to a scammer, instead of your business.

Business phone

The scammers may imitate the services that you provide in order to dupe consumers. For example, if you are a tech business, they might impersonate your business and claim to be offering consumers tech services, and then obtain payment from customers as well as their personal information. Other times, the scammers might pre-record a message about prize winnings or another scam in order to obtain your customer's money or information.

If this has happened to your business, contact your phone provider right away as your phone system may have been hacked.     


Number Rerouting Prevention:

  • Make sure phone account information is kept secure and only shared with staff that must know the information.
  • Use passwords for the phone system that are not easy to hack and would not be easy to guess.  
  • Periodically call your business telephone to make sure calls ring all the way through.

 MORE BUSINESS INFORMATION >>

Energy Audit Scams

Heating a home during a Vermont winter is no cheap task. Falling victim to utilities scams will only increase your financial burden.
     

Home

Last winter, there was a common energy audit scam used to target consumers in the US and Canada. The scammers would call, or knock on the door, and offer to do a "free" energy audit. After the audit, they told consumers that they qualified for some kind of rebate, which ended up being a ploy to get consumers to write large checks. 

    -Never allow anyone into your home, unless you have scheduled an appointment yourself and did your research first.

    -Don't pay on the spot! Ask for an invoice instead.

More from the BBB.


for Consumers:  

IRS Tax ID Theft Reminders

Caution from the FTC on Mobile Phone Account Hijacking


 MORE CONSUMER INFORMATION >>
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Last modified June 14 2017 04:27 PM

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