Scams Update
10:44 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Fraudsters Target Netflix Users And People Who Don’t Owe Jury Duty Fines

Reporting on scams is like pulling weeds. Report on one, and two new ones pop up in its place. Here are some new scam alerts for area residents:

The Jury Duty Scam

A person pretending to be a St. Louis police officer has been calling St. Louis residents and claiming they missed jury duty, according to the St. Louis Circuit Court of Missouri.

Credit sxc.hu | creationc

The caller, who says he is from the St. Louis City Warrants Department, tells people they are not only wanted for having missed grand jury duty but also for failing to pay fines. Residents are told to purchase money cards and call back with the card numbers to satisfy the fines.

Joanne Martin, jury supervisor for the circuit court, reports that there is no such program. St. Louis police are investigating.

The Netflix Scam

The St. Louis Better Business Bureau is warning Netflix customers about a new email scam attempting to steal personal information.

According to the BBB, consumers get emails that link them to a fake webpage that resembles the actual Netflix login page. They are told their accounts have been suspended and are instructed to call a customer service number, where a “representative” wants them to download "Netflix support software." The software actually allows scammers full access to their computers. The phone number given by the scam website is for a call center in India, and the webpage is a pop-up.

"Netflix has a good reputation, and scammers are taking full advantage of that," warned Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO in a media release. "Anyone using the company's video-streaming service could fall for this scam and become a victim of identity theft."

The BBB reminds consumers to never let someone log into their computers remotely. Once given access, scammers can steal personal and financial information. Consumers should type the address for a website in the search bar instead of clicking on links in an email. Scam URLS often include a similar name but have jumbled letters or numbers. When trying to contact a business, look up the phone number; don’t call phone numbers included in an email.

The “Microsoft” Repair Scam

A respondent to our recent Public Insight Network inquiry about scams wrote that senior citizens might be more likely to fall for fraudulent offers to “fix” their computers remotely because they have difficulty lugging their computer equipment to repair shops.

“Repair” scams have been around for years, and they continue to evolve.

Last week, for example, the University of Missouri St. Louis IT department warned students, faculty and staff that people are calling office, home and cell phones pretending to be from Microsoft or an IT security company. The scammers warn their targets that they’ve detected a virus and direct them to remote tools, such as TeamViewer or LogmeIn so they can “fix” their computers. Instead, the scammers install spy software so they can track computer activity and access personal and financial information.

The St. Louis BBB reports that a St. Louis County couple lost more than $300 in a similar tech support  scam but were able to prevent the fraudsters from taking an additional $1,200 from their accounts.

The St. Louis Beacon reported on this scam last fall.

Shimkus Supports Anti-Spoofing Bill

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., announced last week that he is cosponsoring legislation to expand the prohibition on inaccurate caller identification. The practice known as “spoofing” allows robocallers to hide behind false identities.

The current law bans spoofing on calls originating in the U.S.; the new legislation would expand the ban to calls originating outside the U.S. if the recipient is within the U.S. The law would task the Federal Communications Commission with regulating service providers that permit caller identification to be altered. Anti-spoofing definitions would also be expanded to include text messages and IP voice services.

“You should be able to rely on caller ID information to be accurate,’’ Shimkus said in a statement. “When it’s not, you may inadvertently provide personal information to identity thieves or other criminals pretending to represent someone they are not.”

If you have been the victim of a scam – or you hear about a new one – send an email to mdelachleonard@stlpublicradio.org.

To learn more:

FTC Is Still On The Trail Of Rachel And The Robocallers; Hang Up and File A Complaint

Here Are Five Scams That St. Louisans Should Know About, Says The BBB

The B List: These Nine Robocallers And Phishers Belong In The Scammers Hall Of Shame

Inform our coverage:

This report contains information gathered with the help of our Public Insight Network. To read the comments from PIN sources, please click here.  And to learn more about the Network and how you can become a source, please click here.