Free Credit Reports: One Year Later

Free credit reports, new Monster.com scam and “doctored” online printable coupons: Internet ScamBusters #198


Internet ScamBusters™
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud

By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
Issue #198




Hi,

Today we have three interesting Snippets for you:

  • Free credit reports: one year later

  • New Monster.com scam

  • “Doctored” online printable coupons are making the rounds

However, before we begin today’s Snippets, we first encourage
you to take a look at this week’s most popular articles from
our other sites:

The Credit Card Just Got a Makeover

How to Save Big on Winter Clothing

Avoid Getting on a “For Sale” Donators’ List When You Give to Charity

Why Nintendo DS Lite Is Such a Hot Gift

Let’s get started…



Free credit reports: one year later




This month marks the one-year anniversary of the law that
entitles Americans to get free copies of their credit reports
from each of the three main credit bureaus every year.

The New York Times reviewed the success of this law this past
weekend. We thought we’d share their conclusions with you.

According to the author, M. P. Dunleavey, getting your free
credit report “has now joined the ranks of other dreaded
procedures — like mammograms, colonoscopies and regular dental
cleanings. You know it’s for your own good, but it sure doesn’t
feel that way.” ;-)

Last year, we described the program in our article on getting a free credit report.

There is only one website, AnnualCreditReport.com, where you can order or download your free credit reports.

Unfortunately, studies have found that there are over one
hundred fraudulent sites that are misspellings of the real
site!

The three main credit bureaus set up sites to offer you free
credit reports if you sign up for their “free-to-pay” credit
monitoring services.

Free-to-pay monitoring means you sign up for a free trial
period and then get charged automatically beyond the trial
period for credit monitoring. The FTC sued Experian last year
over its free-to-pay credit monitoring services. Experian
settled and paid the FTC $950,000.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the free credit
reports program is how difficult it is to correct errors.
According to one study, 25% of all credit reports contain
errors! You need to keep very careful records and be very
persistent in order to successfully dispute errors.

Nonetheless, we do believe the free credit reports program is
valuable, despite the problems. It’s very important to review
your credit reports regularly.

For more info on free credit reports, check out this New York Times article (registration required).



New Monster.com scam




We’ve had a lot of subscribers ask about the email job offer
going around, supposedly from Monster.com.

The vast majority of job scams have been overpayment scams, as we described here:

However, this new job scam seems to be widespread. The most
common version has the Subject: “Job Offer: Shipping and
Receiving Clerk.”

The email starts with the name of the company and its mission
statement. It then goes on to describe the position, offers
excellent benefits, and states reasonable requirements.

The most “interesting” part is the starting salary: $70-80 per
sent package!

You can see a copy of the scam email here:

http://www1.ietf.org/spam-archive/fecframe/msg00239.html

Although the From address of the version on this website is
different than the ones we’ve seen, they are all from .de
extensions. (Naturally, scammers can and will use any domain
extensions, so don’t assume you are safe just because a domain
extension is reasonable.)

We also noticed that the domain name was registered only a
couple of days before the emails were sent, which is another
red flag.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!



“Doctored” online printable coupons are making the rounds




Imagine receiving an email with an online coupon for $3 off a
$3 item that you usually buy. Sounds great — but is it real?

Often, it’s not.

Here’s how it works: scammers are taking legitimate coupons and
doctoring them into fraudulent ones. For example, the $3
coupon we just mentioned may well have really been a “30 cents
off” coupon.

Unfortunately, you look like the con artist when you try to use
it at the grocery store — not the cyber-scammer who created
the doctored coupon.

So how do you avoid embarrassing yourself at the checkout and
unknowingly committing coupon fraud?

Don’t trust any online coupon that doesn’t come directly from a
manufacturer or from a manufacturer’s authorized
representative. Avoid coupons that are sent to you via email
unless you’ve specifically requested that kind of mailing.

By being skeptical, as well as making sure that all of your
printable coupons come directly from a manufacturer or a
reputable source, you can save yourself a lot of embarrassment
and grief.

Time to wrap up for today — have a great week!