Another wave of scammers is happening across Facebook and other social networks. If I sound a little frustrated, it’s because social networks are notoriously slow to block these fraudulent accounts. It’s like playing Whack-a-mole.
The scammers are pretending to be authors, and they are contacting people about winning a giveaway and requesting personal information like date of birth, SSN, credit card numbers, Paypal logins, etc.
A legitimate author will never ask you for any financial information. When you win a giveaway, the only information that’s needed is your mailing address for physical items or email address for digital prizes. That’s it.
If someone contacts you pretending to be an author, with an account name like Jeaniene Frost Giveaway or Ilona Andrews Sweepstakes, this is a scam. You can verify it by going to the author’s website or social media and contacting them. We all have either contact forms or an email address posted, and majority of us have Facebook or Twitter accounts.
You don’t even have to remember if you entered a giveaway. Just ask the author directly. And honestly, working authors don’t have time to contact individual readers about the giveaways. That’s what our websites and newsletters are for.
The scammers are pretending to be authors and are contacting random readers offering to send them an advance reader copy of a highly anticipated book. You are especially chosen for this wonderful opportunity. The catch is, you must pay shipping. Could they please have your financial details?
Same story as above. Legitimate authors do not ask you to cover shipping charges. No, unfortunately, you haven’t been selected for an ARC. Authors and publishers distribute ARCs through specific channels, such as Netgalley or curated lists of reviewers. Such reviewers never incur any costs in connection with the ARCs. They are distributed free of charge and it’s illegal to sell them.
Yes, I know people sell them on Ebay. Nobody has time or energy to chase after them, but it is illegal. It says right on the cover of the ARC: Not For Sale.
Paypal Request Scam
While we are on this subject, here is another fun scam. This landed in my email box not too long ago. This is the third or fourth time.
This is not a legitimate payment request. Most of us are trained by our banks and credit card companies to quickly report fraud to limit our liability. That above is not the number to Paypal customer service. A quick google search tells us that Paypal’s customer service number is 1 (888) 221-1161.
How do I speak to a real person at PayPal?
- General questions: 1-888-221-1161.
- Unauthorized transactions: 402-935-7733.
- Credit account dispute: 1-866-528-3733.
- General questions if calling from outside the U.S.: 1-402-935-2050.
If you call the number listed in the request notice, they immediately ask for your login information and the details of the payment account attached to Paypal.
Don’t give anyone any information over the phone or online unless you know for sure who you’re talking to. As to Paypal requests like these, just cancel them.
And that concludes our PSA. Stay safe out there!
Chloe Baker says
Thank you for sharing! Unfortunately, there are so many scams out there and sometimes they do seem legitimate (as opposed to the Nigerian prince that wants to send you millions). ????
Patricia Schlorke says
Thank you! There are times I get calls from different area codes and even from Fort Worth area codes. If it’s not someone on my contacts list, I either don’t answer or just swipe the hang up button on my phone. If it’s legitimate, they can leave a message on my voicemail. If it’s not, then no message.
Also, it’s tax season in the United States. If scammers can try to scam everyone out their refunds (if they are getting one), they will try. It’s crazy!
On the tax time scams. The IRS will never ever call you by phone. They will send a letter by postal service to your home address if there is an issue.
Patricia Schlorke says
They will never pressure you to send money via all the different payment options out there.
Same applies to anything from the government including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Ugh, scammers. A waste of time even if they don’t get your money. I was never a big believer in Hell but I’m starting to come around to the concept.
Badmama Battillo says
Just a note to my friends at the BDH-DO NOT TRUST PAYPAL! I will not go into all my history here but Lifelock and I spent a year in a dispute with Paypal. The company was not only uncooperative, but I found that they have a history of NOT being very helpful in financial disputes. My strong advice to all my friends is to STAY AWAY FROM PAYPAL! I was very fortunate that Lifelock/Norton’s insurance (whom I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!)paid the $5000 that I was robbed because of Paypal.
Patricia Schlorke says
Yikes! I said to one of my co-workers that I don’t trust all the different payment apps out there because of all the fraud out there.
It isn’t necessarily an “app” which is insecure as PayPal is a payments service which can be accessed via a website, integrated with retailer websites, apps, in-store checkouts, and a few others. Just wanted to clarify (as a techie) since some people think phishing emails and specifically mobile “apps” are prone to fraud instead of expanding it to think of it as a(n online) service.
“Funds” stored in PayPal default US account are not FDIC insured and PayPal isn’t regulated as a banking entity. It is a good habit to not leave too much PayPal funds in the account & periodically transfer the balance to an actual bank/credit union account where it would be FDIC insured and have bank fraud prevention measures & coverage. PayPal also owns Venmo.
Most payment apps apart from zelle are not from actual banks. Zelle is only a transfer service (NOT the fraud division of your bank) and technically belongs to an LLC which has bank investment and has plenty of scammers taking advantage of the convenience. https://www.nbcchicago.com/consumer/zelle-fraud-more-people-tricked-into-sending-money-over-popular-e-pay-option/3043036/
Zelle does notify you that money sent can not be clawed back if sent to the wrong person.
thanks for the info about Venmo. My own version of Kids 1 and 2….Kid 1 prefers Cashapp, and Kid 2 Venmo.
Neither is happy to get U.S. legal tender from me…..sigh.
Yes! This. I work at a bank and usually have to handle the fraudulent disputes. It annoys me no end that PayPal advertises that they give your money back if there’s fraud, but they don’t. The bank has to give you your money and PayPal won’t even try to help. Be very careful with what you attach to an account with them.
Also, always make sure to check your bank account statements promptly. If you catch it quickly, you should be able to get it back. If it’s too long ago, you might not.
Amy G says
Oh heavens! Gods bless the BDH folks! I love you all & HA, for all the good you send into our world!
Can’t believe that authors have to deal with scammers! Oh my!
BDH is a great source of joy & heartfelt goodness for me. Thank you all for being forthright, friendly & supportive!
I will second this warning about PayPal. My ex was able to open a PayPal account in my name and run up thousands before I confronted him. He did end up paying me back but he never asked or talked with me about this until I found out by accident (running a credit score summary because I was thinking of getting a loan for a new car).
And thank you for keeping me current on the ongoing scams. I worked in technical support and it was amazing to see the variety of scams and the people who fell victim to them. I keep a protective eye out for my mom, although I am now getting to the age group that should be doubly careful. I came across an email scam that said they were from my credit union and there were fraudulent charges on my account (which had happened in the past) and to call or email them per the info in the email. A quick check of my online account did not confirm the activity and I called the number on the credit union’s website. It was a good scam and almost got me.
Another good email tip is to hover your cursor over the sender’s email address – if it does not match the domain name (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the organization, chances of it being a scam skyrocket.
Yup, had a over $4k issue with Paypal myself. Worst part is they decided to run up my mothers credit card that is on my Paypal account. It was there for me to pay her ebay shopping sprees that she used to engage in.
For whatever reason she would shop on ebay, but refuse to check out. I would have to go finalize it.
My grandmother got caught in something similar. The Amazon “please call to refute this charge” one. She figured it out before she gave them money, but not before she gave them too much personal info.
I hate how these scams tend to target vulnerable older people.
I’ve gotten that call a number of times. Fortunately my spouse and I are very careful after his workplace got hacked some years ago. You can contact the 3 or so credit watchdogs and have your credit essentially locked down. In order to take out loans or credit cards we have to clear it with them first. It was well worth the time. I’m going to try to modify a bread recipe now so wish me luck!
Unfortunately, Experian is terrible about security. I started reading Brian Krebs back when he worked for the Washington Post and I followed him when he started his own blog (krebsonsecurity.com). He reported recently about a vulnerability that allowed people to get into their credit reports without any challenge questions or authentication. The vulnerability was apparently there for 7 months or so.
I wish there was a way to exclude Experian from being one of my credit agencies. I’d get rid of them in a hot second if I could.
I have been getting the Paypal, Netflix, and Amazon scams all saying that your account is locked and if you do not respond immediately your account will be frozen or deleted.
Getting a Geek Squad asking for subscription renewal also.
Then there is the IRS scam. Do not call. Do not respond to this one at all.
Thank-You! It needed to be said.
I was so shocked and scared when I got the IRS one and I did call. Dead giveaway was that the person who answered had a thick African accent and it sounded as if he was in a call center. I told him I recieved a email notice from them and asked what it was about and he said he needed my SSN to look up my account. Seriously, my mind was “drop the call it’s a fake”/”OMG it’s the IRS”. Thankfully I hung up. Next day I went to the security office at work and told them what happened and they confirmed that it was a scam going around and not to respond. The only way the IRS contacts you is with a real letter through the mail. They sent that same email to me for two years and I still got the heart stopping “It’s the IRS” feeling even though I knew it was fake.
Courtney Mincy says
Another good tip is to NEVER click on any contact button in an email. I got a very convincing looking email from Amazon about my Prime account payment option with an update button in the email. I got on another device and went to Amazon directly and checked my account. It was good so I reported the email. Never ever click on the link in an email!
Another service I’ve been using for the last decade or so is DeleteMe from Abine. It helps with identity theft issues.
They send take down requests for most of the data aggregators. While it is not cheap or cover everything, it takes you from being low hanging fruit to hard to find.
Which is all we can realistically do in this day and age…
Being old and introverted, I don’t fool with social media, so many of these scams have not bothered me.
I have gotten at least 3 of the Paypal scam notices. I use PP for very few very specific purchases. (Because I trust the company I am buying from even less than Paypal – Not malicious, just small and kinda amateur.) I have changed my password to something harder to break than my first one and may do so again if they keep coming in.
I just mark them junk and block the sender – and make sure Paypal does not process the transaction…
Verify, always verify.
THANK YOU for sending this scammers reminder. Always good to be reminded.
Thank you! I received one of the PayPal scams just a couple of weeks ago. Crazy!
Thank you so much for looking out for your readers and warning us about scams! You are the best!
Natasha Johnson says
I loath scammers! I do love watching the YouTube videos of the hackers messing with the scammers and destroying their files and everything on their computers and also breaking into the calls and telling people they are being scammed especially the older people and stopping it before they get anything.
I love the glitter and fart spray ones for porch pirates! haha They ultimately took down a large operation with that.
Yeah, Mark Rober. This year was the last year he is doing it, after catching several scammers recognizing the bait this year. The previous year he and another team took down 4 operations in Mumbai with the Police.
Though it was handy to find out that car package thieves are pulling down the seat to check the trunk.
Melisa M. says
Thank you very much for the reminder!!!
Yes to all of the above. so tired of all the phishing.
Keep an eye on legitimate purchases, too. Check for fraudulent charges on your credit cards. It has happened to me, but I caught it early and was able to get all my money back. I’ve often wondered if Sears got their fridge back or if they bothered to charge the thieves.
I got one of those PayPal emails recently. I just forward to their phishing email that can be found on their site then deleted the email. My Dr office does it smart. They do not include a link but tell me to go to the app to pay. I was expecting that one.
Really tired of the criminal scum. I wish them everything they deserve.
That Paypal one has been especially tricky, since they’re somehow spoofing Paypal’s official email on the one’s I’ve gotten. Knowing never to click links within email talking about payment, I separately logged into Paypal several times early on looking for the payment requests, even though I was sure it was spam because of the FROM: address looking accurate. I was right every time, but it really looked legit, no misspellings or being from a gmail account which are usually signs of phishing attempts.
I’ve been getting text messages supposedly from my banks regarding a fraud alert. So far, they’ve been from banks that I don’t do business with so it’s extremely obvious that they’re scammers.
Same here. First time it happened, I called the number on the back of my credit card to check.
Be careful of the more sophisticated phishes. Hang up and call the official contact number from the bank’s own website or back of a physical card in your wallet. Go into a branch/office if you need to. Don’t rely on google’s first result of phone number as that, too, had a wave of scam numbers appear a few years ago.
Some scammers are involving the actual bank on the other side. Business accounts don’t have the same consumer fraud protections.
I once got one involving Publishers Clearing House and the California Department of State. California doesn’t have a state Department and all prize winning stuff goes through California’s Franchise Tax Board(my mom won at a casino and had to deal with FTB). The state seal they used looked like it came from a floor mural. So many marinara flags.
Marcia Sundquist says
Thank you for the information on this, got one the other day but I know that I didn’t enter any contests lately so I ignored it.
Wow! I read this then looked at my yahoo mail. There was a bogus Paypal request! What timing. Thanks! (I haven’t had an active Paypal account for at least a decade.)
I’ve been getting texts about my PayPal and Netflix accounts being locked, etc… I don’t have an account with either of those companies, lol.
The Nigerian Prince didn’t actually plan to wire me several trillion?
I am so disillusioned!
I use my work email to communicate overseas so my company IT can’t have as strong spam protection on it. I just have to be really careful. Some of the spam emails are really funny though. I recently got one inviting me to join the illuminati, but only if I gave them ton of personal information. They gave away their game too easy though because the real illuminati would already have all my info! Hee Hee.
I can’t tell you how many times the PayPal scam has been in my email. I finally stopped using the legitimate PayPal services because I don’t feel like second guessing myself.
Very frustrating, these scammers must have triggers everywhere. I had to get a small personal loan. They did a credit check. Immediately 3 phishing emails with 2 different types of scams landed in my email. One about signing a lease. ??? Another, my order from Amazon is stuck in customs please respond. And another Paypal scam. Annoys me that someone must be able to see a credit check because of how many of the emails came in.
And why do I associate the business loan, because junk mail from several loan companies I have never heard of or did business with came through with the scams too.
Tom C says
Oh, man. Some jerk or jerks have been trying to impersonate my mother on Facebook _for years_. (Not sure why, except that she is a very small-time author.) Fortunately, I tend to be high on their “friend me” list, so I can quickly report it and shut them down. Honestly, Facebook needs to have some mechanism and/or list to immediately spot these repeat impersonators. How hard can it be when the name is exactly the same and profile picture just adds some doo-dad at the edge?
Amy Ann says
Another among the legion of scams–a FedEx impostor. You place an online order with a legitimate retailer. Then a day or so later you get an email that looks like it is from FedEx saying they tried to deliver your package and couldn’t (Why I don’t know. I was home and if I wasn’t you usually just leave it on the porch.) You have 48 hours to contact them at the link provided or you will have to place a new order. The email looks legit. FedEx logo. Tracking number (bogus). Everything seems right except for one, teeny spelling error in the fine print that FedEx would probably never make.
Ignore the email or contact FedEx to verify. Also, another tipoff is that the bogus tracking number doesn’t work if entered in FedEx shipment search.
Lyra T. says
a lot of scammers also pretend to be Apple, offering discounts on Apple devices if you send them apple gift cards.
the real contact for apple is 1-800-275-2273.
no bank, government agency, or tech support will ask for payment via apple gift cards.
and apple will NOT refund cards purchased under false circumstances. /:
(I work for apple support and it breaks my heart every time I get one of these calls)
Bigmama Battillo says
I get the scam all the time that I have “won” a new I Phone-I just have to send in the info to pay the shipping for the new phone: also my email address, a bank address, etc. I send the info to the Florida consumer fraud organization and let them handle it. I again, though, want to warn against Pay Pal-do NOT trust any of your finances to them! I have been very disturbed at the number of businesses that are using them to assist in paying for online purchases.
Sue Young says
Next you’ll tell me that really wasn’t Pedro Pascal trying to friend me on Facebook!
Bigmama Battillo says
Just another thought-if you don’t have protection against online tragedy, get it! I recommend Norton/Lifelock. These folks assigned me an agent that spent a year helping me get resolution to my Pay Pal fraud. In the end, they paid the money to clear the debt that Pay Pal illegally charged.
Kat in NJ says
Thank you! My favorite is when I get frantic emails that announce that my Facebook (etc) account has been locked due to unauthorized access and I need to provide personal info to unlock it. Very impressive….since I don’t have a Facebook (etc) account! ????
I never respond directly or release info to emails, and I never call the number in the email. All legit places have other numbers you can call: look at your bank statement, back of your credit card, etc. They can tell you if there is really a problem (spoiler: there isn’t.)
What a world, what a world!
Thank you. No matter how many times it is said, it never hurts to be reminded of this.
Ann C says
Thanks for all the information. It’s really tough out there knowing who to trust. The people and companies you trust with your information seem to have many flaws. Emails hacked, credit bureaus that keep track of all your information are hacked and feel they’re not libel for their errors. It sucks. I no longer do any social media. I miss it, but won’t go back. I’m so glad I’m able to follow you on this blog! Thanks for your time and care! ????
i just got a scammer phone call pretending to be my internet provider. they said my current internet plan is being phased out and i need to switch over to their new higher speed plan that costs less, but they have to install a new fiber line to my house, and that fee is $150. then they started asking for my personal information.
the telemarketer scammer person spoke super fast, kept pressuring me telling me i had to switch, and kept demanding i verify my personal information with them. it just felt wrong. and i never respond well to pressure. so i hung up on her and went to the company’s website. i used their chat feature and verified that no, they are not discontinuing my current plan. no i did not have to switch to a higher speed if i didn’t want it (and it was NOT cheaper). and no i didn’t need a new fiber line installed because it had already been installed two years ago at no charge to me, just like i remembered.
the scammers are out in force. thanks for the heads up on this scam.
Thanks for the heads up. I hate that these companies, including the phone companies, are unwilling to do anything to protect their clients. There was just a report here recently about the scam where someone calls claiming to be a grandchild who needs bail. One elderly person got scammed out of thousands of dollars. I don’t get how these scammers can live with themselves.
We just all have to be diligent.
Terrie C says
I have “won” so many prizes from Ace Hardware, I could fill a warehouse.
Thank you so much for not only letting us know about the scams but listing the right phone numbers for PayPal to get assistance. You are the best!
I got a text with a different paypal scam. It told me that my paypal account had suspicious activity and was locked. Supposedly I needed to click on a link to prove my identity and reopen it. Of course I didn’t.
Gloria Magid says
Thanks for the SPAM PSA – hopefully it keeps some of us from making a costly mistake.
On a completely unrelated topic, I have some Hidden Legacy questions I’ve been pondering for a while, and finally just decided to ask. Here goes:
1. The Baylor family inherited the Magus Sagittarius magic from their maternal grandfather. It manifests in various ways in Penelope, Nevada and Catalina, and then there’s Leon, who got a super dose. My question is about the way this magic would be rated if one went through the trials for it. For example, to be a Prime, would Leon have to exhibit the magic with guns and swords? How about just with regular hand-to-hand magic? Is it enough to be superior with just one battle element (guns, in Leon’s case), or would such a limitation mean he could only advance to Significant?
2. Similar question for Animal Mages. We’ve established that Cornelius is a Prime who hid the full extent of his powers because he wanted to avoid Prime politics. However, the impression we get from Ruby fever is that Matilda is more powerful than her father, because she can also sense insects (or arachnids, anyway). So apparently there are ratings within the Prime designation. How is that calculated – or is it? Is it once you hit Prime, they stop worrying about degree of “primeness”?
3. And then there’s Arabella’s ability to call on some of the power of her other form, without fully transforming. (An ability she is keep hidden from her family for some reason – can’t help wondering why…) Is this something all transformation mages can do, or is it unique to Arabella?
Can you guess that I really miss the Hidden Legacy world, with all its complexities? I’d love a snippet or two in this world, maybe with a little more of Leon. I’d love to have him undergo the trials and get ranked. He’s the only Baylor of his generation that hasn’t. Would also love to see Arabella and the young man who works for the Master of Records (his name escapes me at the moment – probably come to me immediately after I post – sigh…) go on a date. That would be fascinating!
Thanks for listening – hope at least some of my questions pique you enough that you are willing to respond. Meanwhile, I’ve pre-ordered the Wilmington years book 2. Can’t wait for that one either!
There have been several times in the past that I have gotten suspicious emails from financial institutions. On two occasions they were legitimate. I contacted them through numbers on statements or on credit cards. Two financial institutions gave me grief for not using the link in the email because it would have been easier for them. When I told them their email looked like a scam they were shocked. I believe I wasn’t the only one complaining since they stopped sending links in emails and instead give directions on how to navigate the menu on their websites. I laughed at one customer service rep that was insulted because I didn’t trust an email with their letterhead.
Oye. That PayPal pone trick. so simple, it’s genius.
Thanks for the info. They are really good at what they do. Some are even calling as if they’re from banks, saying that someone has open an account in your name. they give you a cancellation # and a phone # to call Zelle b/c the transaction is going through them. Then “Zelle” has you enter a cancellation code in your own bank acct to stop the transaction. It is actually a code that will get money out of your account through that link. Scary how they use fear of scammers to scam you.
Pollyanna Hopson says
Montgomery Bonner says
Your bank, your utility, the social security administration, in fact no, not one real live business will ask in an e-mail for your financial information. To double check call them using a known good phone number, in fact, you should have contact phone numbers for all your financial institutions in your phone, in case you are away from home and think you have been scammed. NEVER, respond to any e-mail from anyone, requesting personal information, especially from a source you are not familiar with. You can tell the fake one, but just reading the “from line” in the e-mail, normally they have weird information in it. Your “caution flag” should go up for any e-mail you get whom you do not know. Our local newspaper is ripe full of senior citizens scammed, which I do not understand, because everyone knows not to respond now. Lately, they are using “free roof inspections” mailers to get you to sign up for one, then damaging the roof when up there so you can pay them to fix/replace it, demanding half money up front, and running away with it. I have a solution, but no one likes it. Gmail is the worst offender, with MS Outlook second. I use a paid mail service located in the Netherlands, and I never get spammed on that period. The email is encrypted when I send it to the server, and no records exist on any server in this land. The Netherlands has the strongest privacy laws on the books period.