Watch For These Product Recall Scams!


When a company has to recall a product, it’s never pretty. Organizing refunds, exchanges, and other considerations for customers takes time. Meanwhile, the customers just want the product they bought to work as advertised. 

That combination of confusion and frustration creates the perfect opportunity for scammers to make an opportunistic buck. There are a number of ploys that criminals will use to steal money or information while using the cover of a product recall. 

1.) Discounted cellphones
 

If you’ve been following technology news, you know the Samsung Note 7 phones became so hot, they were melting on the inside. Samsung issued a product recall, stating you could just take your phone to your carrier’s store and exchange it for a new one.
Not everyone thinks that’s such a great deal, though. Either they’re not the original purchaser of the phone, or they bought it online and are having trouble getting the exchange. To recoup losses, they sell it online.
In the days after the product recall was announced, thousands of Note 7 phones went up on auction sites like eBay. They were selling for as little as half their market price. Getting 50% off a smartphone might sound like a good deal, especially when the seller promises the ability to trade it in for a phone of your choice. But buyer beware. There’s no assurance that second-hand buyers of the phone are eligible to participate in any refund program.
Before you buy a steeply discounted product, check to make sure there’s no recall on it. A quick online search should be all you need to see to it that the potential deal you’re getting isn’t going to blow up in your hands. If it feels too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
2.) Fake rebates
Sometimes, companies decide the best way out of a jam is to just write checks. They’ll compensate everyone who bought their product for the damages they caused, and move on to the next product. That’s been the strategy that car maker Volkswagen has employed in the wake of its emissions scandal.
Any time there’s money changing hands, scammers will be there trying to take advantage. In this case, it’s people trying to buy the recalled vehicles for less than the buyback price and hoping to turn a profit in the interim. In other cases, scammers have just posed as representatives of a company issuing a recall and pumped product owners for bank information so they could supposedly deposit the refund directly.
When getting a refund for a recalled product, only deal with the company directly. There are never processing fees or any other costs associated with getting a refund from a company, nor would any company refuse to send a check rather than making a direct deposit. If a product you recently purchased is being recalled, be proactive. Find out what steps you need to take to get your money, and take them. Then, you can safely ignore anyone who calls you with special instructions.
3.) Telephone number swaps
With large-scale product recalls, getting information from a company can be a headache. After all, everyone else who bought the same product is calling at the same time, and likely for the same reason. Long hold times can be a serious drain on your nerves and patience.
That was the thinking of a group of scammers after a major Toyota-issued recall. The scammers sent out an official-looking email instructing Toyota owners to call a number exactly one digit off from the official Toyota help line. Calls to this line were put on hold with a recorded message saying that all operators were busy. The message went on to explain that there was a premium help line available to recall participants. There was a $5.95 per minute charge attached to it, but that information went by so fast, many callers didn’t even hear it. Worse yet, people who called that fake premium helpline were then asked for personally identifiable information, like Social Security numbers.
Here, too, the best way to avoid being hooked in a scam like this is to do your own research. Find the company’s phone number yourself and call. Sure, you might have to wait on hold a while, but the alternative is to put yourself in jeopardy from scams like this one.
YOUR TURN: How do you deal with the frustration of a product recall? What tips do you have to keep your cool and keep yourself safe from scams like these? Let us know!
SOURCES:


Q&A: Google and Cybersecurity

Google had a good day in mid-July. It’s safe to say it had a better day than you did, even if your day was fantastic. The company set a record for the largest single-day increase in value in the history of American investing at nearly $67 billion, breaking the previous record held by Apple.  Google did well enough that if it wanted to relax with a weekend of video games, movies, and pulp novels, it could simply buy Nintendo, Loews, and Barnes and Noble with the money it made just in that one day.
That day was less enjoyable for Google’s customers, though. As investors were thrilled by YouTube’s growth, Gmail users were beset by faulty spam filters which hid so many legitimate emails that Linux founder Linus Torvald took to an online op-ed calling out the tech giant. The misstep was a rare occurrence from Google, but considering it followed a much-ballyhooed revision to its Gmail platform, it was worrisome for many. When considered in the context of major hacks of the U.S. government and infidelity website Ashley Madison this summer, the Gmail problems had people wondering what security Google has in place for the largest privately-held collection of American’s data.
Don’t leave your cyber security in doubt. We’re here to answer your questions about your online safety. 
Question: Everyone is always going on and on about online security, but nothing has ever happened to me. Should I even care? What’s the worst that could happen? 
Answer: If you’ve never paid attention to your Internet security and never had a security problem, you’re probably fine. You clearly have a rabbit’s foot offering you magical protection from scammers, spammers, spoofers, and identity thieves. Or maybe you have been compromised and just don’t know it yet.
If black hats get their hands on your machine, there’s no telling what they could do. In some cases, you’re looking at spyware and malware that’s merely annoying. In others, your personal and financial information could be compromised. You might even have had your identity stolen. Online security is crucial, and you really can’t be too careful.
Question: I don’t have Gmail. I use Outlook. I don’t use Android. I have an iPhone. I’m good, right?
Answer: Internet security is like a 1980s slasher flick: The instant you let down your guard, something bad is going to happen. No, you’re not safe and Google isn’t bad at security. They’re actually pretty good at it.  Their cyber security task force is responding to the perception of a problem, not an actual problem.
Conversely, consider the products offered by Apple: Apple is slow to offer security updates for OS-X and sometimes bizarrely laconic when it comes to iOS apps.  While Google and Microsoft update their iOS apps every two weeks or so, Apple often waits months. Apple also doesn’t support security updates for older versions of OS-X, so if you’re still running Snow Leopard or anything older, Apple stopped updating security on your machine last year, leaving about 1 in 5 users behind.  When El Capitan comes out this fall, it will likely mean that security updates will end for machines still using Mountain Lion. 
Question: How do I know if my security is up to date? 

Answer:  Every reputable piece of software you use, on your computer or on the Web, should allow you to view your security settings.  If you can’t find your security settings, Google it or look for help on the site.  If you still can’t find your security settings, consider using different software. 
Question: What do I do if I think something fishy is going on with my account information? 
Answer:  For our members, let Destinations Credit Union know right away.  The sooner we know, the sooner we can protect your important financial information.  You may have your credit or debit card information stored at your favorite shops and you don’t want anyone to mess with your cards. After you’ve gotten in touch with us, get in contact with whomever is in charge of the site where you have suspicions.  See what they recommend.  It may be a good idea to notify the police.  Anyone who has access to your online profile is likely to have your home address, too.
Now is a really good time to protect yourself.  Update your password for all of your main accounts and any others you can think of.  Don’t write your password down, try not to make it obvious, and try to keep your passwords separate.  It may be a lot of work, but it will pay off in peace of mind.

Sources:

http://fortune.com/2015/07/21/activist-investors-tech-companies/