4 States

— Massive data breaches, a major Medicare card scam, new forms of phishing: there were lots of big scam stories from this past year, but also, hope for some scam victims. Take a look back with us: The Equifax data breach. A staggering 143 million Americans had their information compromised. This doesn’t mean you are automatically a victim of identity theft, however, vigilance is key. The best way to protect your identity is to monitor your credit reports. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to get …

4 States

— December is a critical month for charities to raise money. In fact, nearly one third of annual giving occurs in December. Scammers are well aware of this and are out in full force looking to line their own pockets as the year draws to an end. South Dakota Attorney General, Marty Jackley “encourages South Dakotans to continue to give to those less fortunate, but to follow these precautions to ensure [the] donation is going to the cause for which it is …

— As we enter the holiday season, it pays to be vigilant to avoid scams or slip-ups that could put a damper on your celebrations. Here are some ways to keep your holidays happy. Beware of deals.  Be wary of those too-good-to-be-true deals, especially those that show up as links on your social media feeds. Check out reviews, search the retailer’s name with “scam” to see what comes up, and if it’s a retailer you already know and frequent online, go …

— An 84-year-old widow called the AARP Fraud Watch Network after accepting a free trial offer for a skin cream she had seen a famous personality touting on television. She had no idea she needed to cancel after receiving the free trial. She was sent more product at a cost of $200 and is now fighting to return the product and get her money back. How it Works:   Free trial offers often lure you into accepting a free product or …

— As we honor those who have served our country this Veterans Day, know that some scammers go to great lengths to target their money, their benefits, and their commitment to current and former soldiers. How it Works:   Scams targeting veterans can take many forms: The ‘Cash for Benefits’ Scheme: Predatory lenders target veterans in need of money by offering cash in exchange for future disability or pension payments. These buyouts are typically a fraction of the value of the …

— Free public Wi-Fi, available at places like airports and coffee shops, are convenient, but can be risky. How it Works: Scammers monitor commonly used Wi-Fi network names, and set up their own “evil twin” access points in hopes your computer or device will automatically connect to it without your consent.   Or they launch a “man in the middle” attack, by hacking into the connection between you and the free Wi-Fi provider.  Their goal? To grab your emails, credit card numbers, …

— In honor of Cyber Security Awareness Month, we have collected six valuable tips to help you and your family stay cyber secure: Create strong passwords. In fact, instead of a password, create a passphrase. Make it something unique to you and easy to remember. For example, if you’re a pie lover, your passphrase could be Ilovechocolatepie. Like to golf? How about Golfismyfavoriteactivity. Think of something that would be easy for you to remember, but hard for a thief to crack. …

— Social media scams come in many shapes and sizes. Two fast-moving scams we’ve seen lately are fake ads on social media sites and promotions for phony genealogy sites. The goal with both is to steal from you, whether it’s your hard earned money or your identity. How it Works: With online shopping scams, con artists post ads for too-good-to-be-true deals on hot items, like designer eyewear. The ads can show up as a sponsored post in your feed, or as …

— Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit bureaus, recently announced that a data breach likely compromised the information of approximately 143 million Americans.  The media swirl that ensured has left many people confused and alarmed. What You Should Know As a credit-reporting agency, Equifax collects information about consumers and how we handle our financial obligations. Equifax and other credit bureaus sell this information to lenders and credit-scoring companies to determine our eligibility for loans and lines of credit, and …

— Smishing is when scammers use text messaging to lure targets into sharing credit card numbers and other personal information. The name comes from combining Short Message Service or SMS (the technology used for text messages on cell phones) with phishing. How it Works: Scammers send hundreds, or even thousands, of text messages at a time in the hope that even just a few recipients take the bait. The text is urgent – you need to click on a link or …