Scammers’ most damaging weapon was using the internet to steal money and personal information from customers in 2019, according to the complaints submitted to the state Attorney General’s Office.
The office collects complaints of fraud from residents and business owners throughout the state to keep track of scam trends and get law enforcement involved when necessary.
Here are 10 most common scams customers wrote formal complaints about in 2019.
1. Internet scams
Those include issues with service providers, data privacy and security, data breaches and fraud through internet manipulation.
This would include phishing emails, which appear to be from a legitimate source and coax the receiver to provide sensitive information.
Last year, DiBella’s Subs, which operates 47 stores across the U.S., announced that its computer systems were affected by a sophisticated data breach, potentially exposing information from up to 305,000 payment cards.
What you can do: Customers should be wary of pop-up computer messages asking them to call immediately about a computer virus, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
If you know you’ve given scammers access to your computer, run antivirus software and consider reformatting your computer. Apply security updates as soon as possible and change your passwords often.
The office received 4,436 complaints in this category in 2019.
2. Consumer scams
Scams could involve security systems, technology repairs, immigration services and consignment shops.
What you should know: Potential fraud between two businesses often comes in the form of business services.
Food truck and restaurant owners from across the country complained to the Attorney General’s Office about M Design Vehicles, a Rochester-based food truck builder that often didn’t follow through on its contracts to construct food trucks, leaving customers out tens of thousands of dollars.
The office received 2,659 complaints of this type in 2019.
This includes buying, leasing and repairing vehicles, as well as service contracts and rental agreements.
Many residents are not familiar with the fine print in leasing or sale agreements, which gives untoward dealers an opportunity to bilk customers into paying out extra cash.
What you can do: Do not sign agreements that don’t have the numbers filled in, and check over your agreement to make sure there are no extra accessories or warranties present that you did not agree to or ask for. Ask for a copy of every document you sign.
There were 2,510 complaints of this type in 2019.
4. Landlord and tenant disputes
These include security deposit releases and tenant harassment.
Tenants in New York were granted a number of protections as part of new rent legislation last year.
What you should know: Landlords can only charge a maximum of $20 for a credit and background check before a lease is signed, and may only charge up to one month of rent for a security deposit or “advance payment.”
There are also additional protections for late fees and eviction.
There were 1,910 complaints about scams involving landlords and rent in 2019.
5. Utility companies and services
This includes issues with wireless and residential phones, energy suppliers, and cable and satellite providers.
A man in Geneseo was sent a mobile phone bill of more than $4,000 after his information was stolen and used to buy several iPhones and phone lines on his AT&T mobile phone account.
Others through New York state have found that they’re paying double on their utility bills, sometimes attributable to energy service companies, or ESCOs, that may convince customers to sign up for unnecessary services at exorbitant costs.
What you can do: Before accepting service through an ESCO, consumers should ask how their rates compare to the rates provided directly from utility companies, the Attorney General’s Office advised.
The office received 1,811 complaints about utility scams in 2019.
6. Credit and debt services
These scams could include debt collection, credit card billing, debt settlement and debt relief, payday loans, credit repair, credit reporting agencies and identity theft.
Scammers posing as utility or financial agencies may call residents in attempts to steal credit card information.
What you can do: A good rule of thumb is to never give out sensitive financial information over the phone, no matter how convincing a caller may sound.
Debt collection scams often promise to alleviate or diminish debt quickly and easily, or may charge an up-front fee, which is illegal.
Customers can also sign up for a credit freeze through one of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. That allows you to restrict access to your credit report.
The office received 1,206 complaints of this type in 2019.
7. Retail sales
This could include any sale of goods, food, or clothing, plus rent-to-own services and online orders. Ticket websites may offer expensive seats for highly anticipated events that turn out to be stolen tickets or seats that don’t exist at all.
What you can do: Before entering into a rental purchase agreement, be sure to read and understand all terms and ask questions, including: How much are the monthly payments? What other monthly fees apply? What is the total dollar cost to own the item? Who pays for repairs? Is there a penalty for paying off the item early?
There were 1,091 complaints came in about scams of this type in 2019.
8. Home repair and construction
These include home improvement services that were not delivered or were done poorly.
What you can do: Consumer protection bureaus regularly urge customers to check customer reviews and Better Business Bureau pages before paying a contractor to seal their driveways, renovate their bathrooms or clear ice from their roofs.
The office received 901 complaints about these scams in 2019.
9. Mail order and online catalogs
These include purchases made via mail order or online catalog or marketplace.
Negative option marketing is a popular form of sales online, where online merchants treat a consumer’s failure to reject an offer or cancel an agreement as their approval to be charged for goods or services on a recurring basis, according to the Attorney General’s office.
What you can do: Read all terms and conditions before you make a purchase, know when your “free” or “trial” period ends and monitor your credit card and bank statements for any unauthorized or recurring charges.
The office received 593 complaints about these scams in 2019.
10. Mortgage services
These include mortgage modifications, mortgage and loan broker fraud and foreclosures.
What you should know: Individuals and companies may claim that they will make homeowner’s monthly mortgage payments in exchange for temporarily holding the deed to the home, allowing the homeowner to remain in the home as a renter until he/she can resume making monthly mortgage payments, according to the Office.
This may be a scam to steal the deed and attempt to evict the homeowner.
The office received 493 complaints about these scams in 2019.
What you can do next
Residents and customers can submit complaints of scams or fraud to the Attorney General’s Office at ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/Filing-a-Consumer-Complaint.
They will be asked to fill out contact information, and provide both a description of the alleged scam or fraudulent activity as well as documents related to the case.
Customers can also call the Office’s Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection’s customer helpline at 800-771-7755.
Sarah Taddeo is the consumer watchdog reporter for USA Today Network’s New York State Team. She investigates stories about your consumer rights, including scams, negligent landlords, safety issues and wayward businesses.
How Tiffaney Williams Has Taken Over the Financial Literacy Space and Has Made a National Name for Herself
NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / October 22, 2020 / With over ten years of valuable experience, Tiffaney Williams, a leading financial strategist, has dedicated her life towards helping individuals gain financial freedom by restoring credit, building businesses to multiple 6 figures, and creating multiple streams of opportunities for income. Tiffaney is proud to be a Certified Credit Counselor, with a master’s degree in economics and over 10,000 credit repair success stories, as well as over 500 business testimonials. On top of an already impressive resume, she is also nationally acclaimed in the financial industry with over 20 features from highly syndicated news appearances, including NBC, USA Today, CBS, FOX ABC, Future Sharks, and more.
In order to achieve such high levels of success, great motivation is necessary. For Tiffaney, she found motivation by being a voice for the voiceless. Many of the people with her same upbringing are labeled a statistic, but Tiffaney knew there was more to it, and that she could be the one to change it.
“I knew in order to do better, I had to be better. I had my son Michael during my senior year of high school. I felt all my dreams had shattered. I quickly realized my son, the greatest gift of all time, wouldn’t be the reason my dreams shattered, and it wouldn’t be me. We must hold ourselves accountable and do what we say, be what we want, and obtain what we desire. My mindset has always been to focus on my focus,” Tiffaney explains.
To make her even more impressive, Tiffaney accomplished all of this in a male-dominated industry as a black woman, defying all expectations, and proving her individualism. What allowed her to rise to the top was that she sees herself as a coach of experience, not a coach of just book smarts and theory.
“I mastered what not to do first so I could teach others what to do the first time. What makes me different is that I understand the psychology of wealth strategies, which are to start mentally first. I coach from mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial perspectives, providing a well-rounded and therefore effective approach,” Tiffaney explains.
Instead of letting disadvantages keep her down, Tiffaney was able to find a way to make them work for her, inspiring her to work harder. Tiffaney was inspired by her own experiences with lack of knowledge, financial literacy, and money management. She wanted more money at the time, not realizing until later that money was nothing to wealth.
“Coming from a low-income family, I knew I had to level up, because my heart desired being rich, not knowing it to be more than the kind of “rich” than what you see on TV. Now, I am inspired to inspire others. My goal later was to teach my community what I now knew and understood. I wanted to teach and educate my community so they can make sound financial decisions to their benefit,” Tiffaney says.
Often, Tiffaney believes, people overthink and try to live a perfect life without mistakes. This is a pitfall many fall into, and Tiffaney frames this as an emotional way to live, which is motivated by a fear of failure – a negative place for motivation to be born. Tiffaney believes that we need to live strategically, rather than emotionally, to be fulfilled in our daily lives.
“You have to execute and be okay with knowing there are always going to be bumps in the road. The experience of losses teaching us lessons are what creates a dynamic entrepreneur. Someone who can go through the journey of entrepreneurship and still make it to the finish line, will find success a million times,” Tiffaney says.
While her positive and directed attitude separates Tiffaney from the competition, she admits she doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about her competitors. She believes worrying about others in her field is a significant waste of her energy and time that are much better spent elsewhere in areas that will propel her forward.
“There are over 4 million people in the US alone. With those numbers, I only have time to focus on looking for people that are looking for me. I focus on being goal-oriented, self-motivated and results-driven. I don’t just solve one problem, I solve massive problems,” Tiffaney says.
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Black-Owned Businesses Pioneer Black Friday by Accepting Cryptocurrency
ATLANTA, Oct. 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — This year’s Black Friday is developing into a profound shopping experience for the Black community, thanks to the Black founded cryptocurrency Guapcoin ($GUAP), in conjunction with a movement called “Guap Friday”.
Every Black Friday, shoppers search for the best discounts possible, which are usually offered by retail giants like Walmart and Amazon. While initiatives like Small Business Saturday encourage buyers to support local creatives and shops, there is rarely such a strong effort to support and market Black business owners. And as COVID-19 has had a greater impact on Black entrepreneurs than any other demographic, this holiday season will be especially challenging.
The organizers of Guap Friday are taking this opportunity to introduce the Black community to shopping with their own digital currencies like Guapcoin. Cryptocurrencies offer a safe, smart alternative to dollars. An increasing number of merchants are accepting digital currencies, and Guapcoin may be the best way to track and grow a real Black dollar.
Real “Black Dollars” Data
With blockchain and cryptocurrency, Guapcoin aims to dispel the myth of the “disappearing dollar” with data that demonstrates the potential growth factor not just to coin holders, but to future businesses and investors in Black entrepreneurs. In order to achieve this, Guap Friday is partnering with blockchain analytics platform TrustB, which promises to bring real data analytics to Black spending, as well as the means to measure Guapcoin’s impact.
What Can People Buy on Guap Friday?
Guap Friday will feature mostly Black-owned businesses that offer a wide variety of products and services. Merchants will be selling goods such as electronics, books, makeup, jewelry, haircare, skincare, clothing, handbags, and healthcare. Additionally, services available for purchase will be credit repair, astrology and tarot readings, legal advice, beauty classes, financial planning, and weight loss. Guap Friday will be adding new merchants all the way up to November 27. Merchants who want to participate in Guap Friday can learn more on the Guap Friday website.
Customers interested in supporting Black-owned businesses during Guap Friday will have to get some $GUAP in order to shop on the platform. Guap Friday will release further instructions on their website in the coming days. Currently, Guapcoin is available on the Probit.com Exchange. A Peer-to-Peer Exchange will also launch in November, which will allow users to buy and sell crypto directly from each other without a third party.
Developed in 2017 by Tavonia Evans, Guapcoin’s primary mission is to provide a sound and revolutionary economic base for the underserved and underestimated Black community, with a focus on building generational wealth. Guapcoin seeks to educate the community about blockchain and spark a revolution within consumer patterns. Learn more about Guapcoin and how to purchase the cryptocurrency on their website.
Email: [email protected]
Founder of Guapcoin Cryptocurrency
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