COURTESY: Consumer Action – November, 2019
Bad influence(r). When you think “social media influencer,” you may think “narcissistic Instagram addict,” or simply “annoying buzzword,” but influencers have a real, legal definition. According to the FTC, they are people who have a material connection, defined as a “personal, family or employment relationship, or a financial relationship,” with a brand they’re endorsing. The FTC has a message for these ultra-chic messengers: Remember, as you’re #LivingYourBestLife, that you are still “subject to liability for false or unsubstantiated statements made through endorsements, or for failing to disclose material connections.”
Frequent liar. Fraud.org is cautioning that, due to the innumerable data breaches that consumers have suffered, travelers’ 14 trillion frequent flier miles are at risk of being spirited away by criminals who purchase the fliers’ usernames and passwords off the dark web. The underground selling of personal information means that even if you’re confident that your frequent flier account has never suffered a breach, if you’re using the same login info for this account as you’ve used for another that has been hacked, you could be in trouble. Fraud.org’s parent, the National Consumers League, offers a few commonsense ways to avoid becoming a victim of frequent flier fraud, including one we find particularly appealing: Use your points! Maybe it’s finally time to take that trip to the Bahamas that you’ve been putting off?
Heaven help us! Another day, another Netflix phishing scam. (First-time SCAM GRAM reader? Phishing involves emails that appear to come from a legitimate source, but…don’t.) The latest email is targeting the millions of Netflix customers who just want to cozy up on the couch to watch the new season of The Good Place. Unfortunately, they’ll be taken to a bad place if they believe their account has been suspended and click on a link to reactivate it. Don’t believe us? Just try it! Wait–don’t. These types of emails often download malware to your computer, which could siphon your personal or financial information or put you in a situation where you’re locked out of your device and subject to a ransom demand if you want to regain entry. Or, they may simply take you to a site that looks like Netflix (but isn’t), in an attempt to “log you in” to steal your username and password.
Be all that you can be. Veterans Day has come and gone, but scams that target veterans and members of the military are still booming. To combat this troubling trend, MilitaryConsumer.gov offers info on the crimes common to those who are serving or have served our country, including ones related to deployment, change of station, predatory lending, etc. The website also outlines your financial rights as a servicemember or vet. (Hint: You enjoy some “perks” that civilians do not.) Speaking of perks, as of last month, active duty servicemembers can benefit from free electronic credit monitoring to alert you to, well, weird stuff on your credit report that could indicate a scammer is attempting to open a credit card, take out a home loan, buy a car, etc. in your name. The FTC’s site has more information on how to activate the alerts from the three major credit bureaus.
Dō-NotTERRA. The New York Times has created a new blog, called “Scam or Not,” that offers much-needed “fact-based information on wellness trends.” The blog explores such questions as: Are there benefits to taking fish oil (“maybe just eat a fish once in a while”); taking CBD (we need randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind studies to know for sure); and drinking kombucha (maybe if you’re a masochist). Check it out, and avoid falling prey to pervasive and obnoxious wellness industry hype. (No, Karen, your DōTERRA essential oils won’t cure cancer!)