AG’s office warns of online scams

By Mike Gellatly -

RALEIGH — The North Carolina attorney general is warning people to beware of those who would steal their money through new and innovative online scams.

“Scammers and fraudsters are clever and they’re always coming up with new ways to steal your money,” said Josh Stein, North Carolina’s new attorney general. “My office can help you educate yourself on how protect your money and yourself.”

The warning comes during National Consumer Protection Week, which ends Saturday.

As many people found out in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, scam artists often pose as representatives of well-known companies, government agencies or even as loved ones to take advantage of people.

Consumers should be wary if they receive requests for personal or financial information online or by phone, said Laura Brewer, of the Attorney General’s Ooffice. When in doubt, consumers should hang up and contact the company or agency directly using a telephone number they have confirmed as legitimate.

Some recent scams are:

— The Western Union email scam, in which someone seeks to capitalize on a recent Western Union settlement. Western Union agreed in January to a $586 million settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for failing to adequately address fraudulent activities. Consumers who previously wired money to scammers receive an email that appears to be from Western Union. The email is about a refund of their lost money. Email correspondence may include references to the FBI and U.S. Treasury Department.

— A new online scam targets students and their families through a company called College Level Exam, which claims to be selling DVDs to assist students with financial aid, scholarships and college entrance. It is charging fees for services that can be obtained for free. Operators of the telemarketing scam call students and families posing as federal student aid representatives and ask personal and financial questions.

— In telemarketing scams, con artists pose as representatives of the federal government, the Federal Reserve or some other official-sounding agency and tell people they are eligible for a federal grant because they’ve paid their taxes on time or have no criminal record. They ask for the consumer’s bank account information in order to make a direct deposit.

Anyone can report email scams to the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division by filing a consumer complaint online at NCDOJ.GOV or calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM, toll-free within North Carolina.

By Mike Gellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly

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