This is a very good example of how to do it right when you try to alert customers or stakeholders about a "phishing" attempt.
"Phishing" is where the scam artist dangles a lure and tries to lure you to bite on what appears to be a safe-looking link that actually leads you to a specially-disguised website, where they get you to give them your private data, all while making it appear that they are helping you).
Willamette Valley Bank is a local institution, and this email (complete text below, image above) is a well-done warning. Some phishing warnings are so poorly planned that you can't tell whether it's a genuine warning or more phishing. The text of the WVB warning:
Dear Client & Friend,
We recently received a communication alerting us to the fact that there may be an attempted phishing attack in progress. Because we care about the safety of our clients, we are providing you with information and steps to take if you receive this fraudulent email.
Phishing is a form of fraud that is used as an attempt to acquire personal information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details. The most common way this is attempted is through email.
Emails have been received that reference the "eNFact" product. These emails have been directing recipients to click on a link (shown in the e-mail sample below) which will take them to a mock-Fiserv site which is believed to be installing malicious software onto computers.
The phishing attack will come in an email similar to the one that follows:
[see image above]
1. Do not open the email;
2. Do not click on the link contained in the email; clicking on any of the links contained in the email may install malicious software on your system;
3. If a link is clicked, steps should immediately be taken to protect your computer and/or network;
4. Delete the email from your "Inbox" and "Sent Items.
Please rest assured that your personal information stored on Willamette Valley Bank computers is secure and this threat does not compromise that information. If you have any questions about this at all feel free to contact us:
From a public-spirited attorney in Washington, Peter Fels, who passes on this warning from a Spokane attorney, Dick Sayre. No reason to think it stops North of the Columbia River.
Folks, the Attorney General is accepting complaints about VA scams which are spreading over Washington like a small plague. They are working with the VA, who is not at all amused by these goings on. Of particular interest to the AG are non lawyers selling insurance products and/or irrevocable trusts to disabled seniors with a purpose of shielding assets from VA so as to gain acceptance for Aid and Attendance benefits, but lawyers here and in other states taking part in the scams are also a target of their investigations.
As most of you know, VA does not have a lookback or penalty for gifting assets, making this what appears to be an easy sale for the annuity sellers, who charge for the 'service' and get commissions from the trusts and annuities. That will likely change as a consequence of this practice.
As many of you know, clients are being talked into making gifts to children, who then either put the funds into an irrevocable trust or buy an annuity 'to keep the funds safe'. They then apply for Aid and Attendance benefits but, of course, when they later need Medicaid, they are faced with a huge penalty period and extended ineligibility. DSHS will deny eligibility or deem assets to be in a constructive trust; however, often the client cannot get them back - it's the worst of all worlds.
I have dealt with a number of these cases, and everyone ended badly for the clients. Here in Spokane, the VA experts are approaching AFH's and nursing homes for presentations, and are being given a warm welcome given that the money goes to the facility. When the next one of these goes bad, I'll be visiting with some of the litigators on this list about the forseeability of injury when the facility sets these creeps up as experts for financial gain.
The agents pass themselves off as VA experts and have business entities with snappy titles. They make huge profits for advice and healthy commissions from crappy annuities sold to desperate people without any warning of the consequences of this approach. As most of you also know, the VA helps people apply for A&A without cost.
If you have complaints, please direct them to Brooks Clemmons or file a complaint as set out below. Here is contact information for Brooks:
email@example.com and (509) 456-3282 (direct line)
It would be helpful to the AG if people filed a complaint online at
www.atg.wa.gov as those complaints go straight into their bank of complaints and are coordinated with similar complaints. The AG would like to find out if there are persons or families that have been approached or have been taken in as a consequence of these unethical and fraudulent practices.
In Brooks words: It is our fervent desire to stop this practice and stop others from being harmed.
I have filed several complaints, and I know others have as well. I've also created some havoc with annuity companies, but most won't budge absent litigation. Meanwhile, the client is without services or money. It is now reaching epidemic levels, and I ask you all to refer cases to the AG so we can prevent more people from being irreparably harmed.
Sayre & Sayre, PS
The other day I warned you about a company that has all the hallmarks of a scam debt relief con
-- much like this one in NC (bolded points emphasis is mine):RALEIGH, N.C. -- A bogus Florida law firm, which claimed it would reduce consumers’ debts by more than half, has been barred from debt-relief work in North Carolina. Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that under a consent judgment approved by Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning,
The Consumer Law Group of Boca Raton has agreed to pay $600,000 in refunds to North Carolina customers who paid the company for help getting out of debt. “Debt relief scams take advantage of struggling consumers, adding to their burden instead of helping them get out of debt,” Cooper said. “I’m pleased that we’ve been able to win money back for these
consumers, money that can hopefully help them pay off bills and get on better financial footing.”
The $600,000 payout is on top of approximately $600,000 worth of charges the company agreed not to collect from North Carolina customers. An additional $50,000 will help cover the state's costs for work on the case. The judgment bars CLG from marketing, soliciting or offering a debt-settlement or debt-negotiation services in North Carolina. CLG is also prohibited from claiming that its services are government-sponsored, performed by attorneys, or provide legal representation for consumers. Cooper’s office filed suit against CLG in October 2010 after a probe determined that more than 650 North Carolina consumers had paid CLG for debt-relief work but gotten little or no help in return. People can continue to file complaints about CLG or other debt-relief companies by calling the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina, or filling out a consumer complaint form at www.ncdoj.gov. “Don’t pay an upfront fee for help getting out of debt,” Cooper said.“For real help getting your debts under control, meet with a qualified non-profit credit counselor in your local community, who won’t charge you a big fee.”
For help finding an accredited, non-profit credit counselor, contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at 1-800-388-2227 or www.nfcc.org.
A very non-descript white #10 business envelope with a see-through address window came in my mail this morning from something I'd never heard of called "Corporate Regulatory Committee" at 1118 Lancaster Drive #369, Salem OR 97301."
"Looks official. Who's that?" I wondered. Turns out to be a variant on the old phone directory billing scam, where people you've never heard of send you an oh-so-official looking letter that very much makes it seem like you already owe them money.
Somewhere buried in the verbiage of all these things (amidst all the humorous spelling mistakes, like "procedding" -- how many can you find?) is usually some sort of phrase that explains, to the alert reader, that you don't actually owe anything and that this whole thing has no real connection to the organization that the rest of the hit piece is intended to make you think it's from.
Plenty of people get scammed by these sorts of things, even some pretty bright but busy people. Don't be one of them. If you get a letter like this, do not pay, of course, but also do not throw it away. Instead, keep it, and alert the Attorney General and the Secretary of State.
(No doubt you'll not be surprised to find that 1118 Lancaster Drive is a private mailbox business, so there's another violation, this one of postal rules, which are that PMBs are supposed to put PMB in their return address.)
The image they're selling is a lot different than the reality most people experience from "debt relief" schemes like this
WARNING -- DEBT RELIEF OPERATION OUT PROSPECTING FOR NEW VICTIMS --
THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT THESE FIRMS CHARGE A LOT OF MONEY, UP FRONT, TO "NEGOTIATE" ON YOUR BEHALF, AND YOU HAVE NO WAY TO KNOW WHAT, IF ANYTHING, YOUR MONEY WENT FOR (and they write the contracts in a way that guarantees that they get paid whether you get any debt relief or not).
Remember, unsecured debt is just that -- it's debt that you can eliminate in bankruptcy, they can't repossess the goods you bought with the credit cards. THAT is your leverage with the credit card companies, NOT the fact that some GFS-like outfit is in the picture.
Reputable financial counselors don't use the same sales pitch techniques (the supposedly testimonial note from "Nancy Harper," the blizzard of exclamation points!!, the pitch to get you to give them all your financial info before they tell you anything of substance) that the credit card companies use. If you are in over your head in debt, the best thing you can do is contact an attorney licensed to practice law in your state, or programs like Legal Aid in your community -- stay away from internet come-ons offering fantastic tales of debt elimination.
This really works for people!
It worked for me!
I have tried for a long time. To get out of debt! Until one day, I heard about debt settlement!
It is an aggressive way to get out of debt ,and fast!!! So I had a free consultation from one of global financial analyst’s. They sent me a free debt kit to look over all the options out there.
With all the pros and the cons of each.
I had over $43,000 in credit card debt.. I went with Global Financial Services program and saved close to $18000, and was out of debt in 22 months. It was amazing for me and my two boys! I have extra money in my pocket every month and I don’t have to worry about not being able to make my minimum payment every month.
Thank you so much GFS, you really changed my life! Cindy Harper
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Debt settlement is a proven system through which unsecured debt is negotiated down to a fraction of what is owed. In exchange, the creditor agrees to forgive the balance, and the account is settled in full. Debt settlement is the most viable option for consumers to get out of debt in the shortest period of time and for the least amount of money.
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Translation: When some big company violates the federal laws limiting telephone nuisances, you can go into federal or state court as you prefer; the company doesn't get to waste your time and money trying to force you to file in the other system, regardless of which court you chose.Mims v. Arrow Financial Services, LLC
Ginsburg, J., writing for the unanimous Court
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1195.pdfCIVIL PROCEDURE: (Federal and state courts have concurrent jurisdiction over private suits arising under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.)
In response to consumer complaints, many states enacted statutes restricting telemarketing and other “abuses” of telephone technology. Recognizing that telemarketers were evading state-law prohibitions by operating interstate, Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), which banned certain practices telemarketers were using (e.g., automatic telephone dialers, use of prerecorded messages, and use of caller ID manipulation) and directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement regulations. The TCPA also provided for private parties to bring civil actions “in an appropriate court of that State” and authorized State Attorneys General to bring civil actions on their residents’ behalf with exclusive jurisdiction being given to the Federal District Courts.
Petitioner (Mims), a private party, invoked federal question jurisdiction and filed a claim against Arrow Financial Services (Arrow) in federal District Court seeking declaratory relief, a permanent injunction and damages for Arrow’s willful and knowing violation of the TCPA. The District Court dismissed Mims’ complaint stating that federal question jurisdiction was unavailable “because Congress vested jurisdiction over [private actions under] the TCPA exclusively in state courts.” The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed and the Court granted certiorari to resolve a circuit split regarding which courts had jurisdiction over private actions brought under the TCPA.
In a unanimous decision, the Court held that because district courts possess federal question jurisdiction for claims arising under federal law and since Mims’ TCPA claim is based on a private right of action created by federal law, the lower court erred in dismissing his case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and that private TCPA claims may be brought in either state or federal court.
To the left is a pretty extensive laundry list of lawbreaking committed by a Georgia debt collector against consumers in that state. These guys broke the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in just about as many ways as they could.
Keep this list in mind -- if a debt collector ever does any of this to you or anyone you know, contact a consumer attorney immediately. Keep all phone messages, voice mails, and every bit of correspondence you get from the debt collectors, and make a record of when they call, their names, and numbers.
If you are in Oregon and you know of anyone who has experienced any of these violations, I would be glad to assist. Courts can and have hit debt collectors with "statutory damages" of up to $1,000 for each individual violation committed against a consumer, PLUS making the debt collector pay the attorney fees for the consumer bringing the action.
I asked a fine local Salem craftsman, George Essaides, of Willamette Valley Fine Woodworking, to design and make a standing desk/bookshelf for me, as the excessive sitting required in a solo law practice was getting to me.
George did a marvelous job in just a couple weeks, and I am really enjoying having a choice about whether to stand up and work or not (I kept my old desk and computer too, so I can switch back and forth).
Happy to show it off if you want to see it up close, just let me know you're coming so I can be sure to be here.
Two of Oregon's premier consumer attorneys are helping consumers being ripped off by British Petroleum, the company whose negligence led to countless hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil dumped into into the Gulf of Mexico. The suit alleges that, by slipping debit card charges in on top of the gas purchase, BP has failed to follow the plain language of Oregon law requiring that posted price signs be truthful.
If you have purchased gas from a BP ARCO or AM/PM station, you should go check it out.