Articles written by Michelle Tabler


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  • Romance and dating scams are booming

    Michelle Tabler, AARP Alaska|Feb 1, 2024

    Romance scams are big business for criminals because millions of people are using dating sites. According to the Federal Trade Commission, $547 million was lost to romance scams, up 80% from 2020, with much of that money paid with gift cards and cryptocurrency. And this is just the tip of the iceberg-many people never report scams because they are too embarrassed, or because they don't know where to report the theft. Both men and women are susceptible to these types of scams. It's estimated...

  • Tech support scams are surging

    Michelle Tabler, AARP Alaska|Dec 1, 2023

    Have you clicked on a website and suddenly a loud voice comes on at the same time as a warning fills your screen? The threatening voice advises that you have been infected with a computer virus, warns you not to turn off your computer, and urges you to immediately call the number on your screen. Or have you received an unsolicited phone call from someone who claims to be from Microsoft, Apple or a security software company to tell you they’ve detected a threat to your computer? These are both tech support scams, a surging category of fraud a...

  • There's no shortage of scams this holiday season

    Michelle Tabler, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2021

    Most holiday scams are just variations on scams we see year-round, but scammers will ramp up their efforts and tailor their fraud to holiday activities during this time of year. Online shopping Scammers target shoppers looking for bargains by creating fake websites (spoofing) and social media ads impersonating major retailers and brands. These sites will advertise products at bargain prices. You will never receive these products and in the meantime, the scammers now have your credit card information. To avoid these scams, look for...

  • Don't let a romance scam break your heart

    Michelle Tabler, For Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2021

    Romance Scams are big business for criminals as millions of people are using online dating sites. In 2019 alone, the Federal Trade Commission estimates $201 million was lost to romance scams, up almost 40% from 2018. In fact, over the past two years, the total reported losses for this type of fraud was higher than any other scam. And really, that's probably the tip of the iceberg as many people who fall victim to this scam are too embarrassed to tell anyone and may be unaware where to report...

  • Two tales underscore the extent of fraud

    Michelle Tabler, AARP Alaska|Jan 1, 2020

    It seems that whatever you do these days, you need to constantly be wary of scams and fraud—whether writing a check, shopping online, checking emails and social media, even answering your cell phone. If this is unnerving for you, imagine the confusion that a senior friend or relative may be experiencing. Scammers prey on vulnerable adults: they are targeted not only because they may have assets, but they may be lonely and welcome the phone calls and attention. There may also be cognitive problems which can cause confusion – something the sca...

  • Document shredding helps protect your ID, credit

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Sep 1, 2018

    Reports of identity theft, breaches and scams have all been in the news lately. Although many of these scams are taking place online or by phone (impostor calls), identity theft can still occur by physical means. Dumpster divers go through your trash at home, work and at landfills. Unsecured mailboxes are targeted by mail thieves. One of the ways consumers can combat identity theft is by shredding all documents that contain personal information. Don’t just toss your old credit card, bank, cell phone and insurance statements. Either purchase a...

  • Tax scams always heat up in tax season

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Feb 1, 2018

    This tax season, Better Business Bureau Northwest & Pacific warns the public about the dangers of tax identity theft. The public is urged to be vigilant with their personal information so they don’t fall victim of tax identity theft. Here’s how the scam works Tax identity theft occurs when someone gets access to your Social Security number and uses it to get a tax refund or job. You’ll discover it occurred when you receive a letter from the IRS stating more than one tax return was filed in your name, or IRS records show you have wages from...

  • Employment scams increase during holidays

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau Northwest|Oct 1, 2017

    Holiday hiring is already underway and Better Business Bureau Serving the Northwest reports employment scams are trending up from last year. In 2016, more than 1,900 employment scams were reported to BBB Scam Tracker, resulting in more than $730,000 lost. From January to September 2017, there have been nearly 1,400 scams reported resulting in more than $635,000 lost. In the past two years on average, 54 percent of employment scams were reported from September to the end of December. With a few more months left in 2017 and the holiday hiring...

  • Preventing ID theft takes diligence

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau Northwest|Sep 1, 2017

    With Better Business Bureau’s free annual event, the Secure Your ID shred day, coming up, it’s a good time to remind people about steps they can take to prevent identity theft. The first line of defense in protecting your identity is to shred all documents with personal information. That includes credit card, bank, utility and other statements, old IRS and tax information, medical statements and credit card offers. Many instances of identity theft still occur by physical methods – dumpster diving and stealing mail out of unsecured mailb...

  • Imposter phone calls and utility scams

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau Northwest|May 1, 2017

    Imposter scams are on the rise – in fact, in 2016, according to the Consumer Sentinal Network, it ranked number two with 472 reported complaints by Alaska consumers, directly behind lottery/sweepstakes scams. Much of the time, these schemes are by phone. Scammers call consumers pretending to be from their utility company or cable company, from the IRS, law enforcement, internet or computer company (tech support scam) or from the court system. The caller claims you are behind in your utility payments, you missed jury duty and need to pay a f...

  • Companies fined for overselling 'brain games'

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Aug 1, 2016

    Have you played any online games that promised to reduce cognitive decline? They may be fun to play but be aware that any health-related claims made by the companies may be unfounded. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently brought charges and settled with several companies that advertised false scientific claims that users would develop better cognitive health by playing their online games. Lumosity will pay $2 million in settling deceptive advertising charges (to be paid to customers who purchased the products) and Learning Rx will pay a...

  • Frantic phone caller is likely an impostor

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Jul 1, 2016

    The “grandparent scam” occurs in Alaska on a regular basis. It’s an impostor scam that has been around for years and has claimed many victims nationwide. The amount requested by the scammers usually runs into several thousand dollars, but one couple here in Alaska lost more than $75,000 to this scam. Here’s how it works The frantic phone call often comes late at night or early in the morning when a person may not be as cognizant. The scammer poses as the victim’s grandchild (or other family relative such as a niece or nephew) and often the...

  • Tax scams spike during filing season

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Mar 1, 2016

    With tax season in full swing, the Better Business Bureau Northwest warns of new twists on tax scams hammering local consumers. According to the BBB Scam Tracker, tax scams ranked at the top nationally in 2015 with more than 2,000 reports out of 10,000 reported. The Internal Revenue Service says consumers lost more than $23 million over the past three years to impostors posing as federal agents tricking victims into making false tax payments. The Better Business Bureau reminds consumers to be wary of unsolicited phone calls, emails or letters...

  • Cute puppies – and scams – abound online

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Jan 1, 2016

    A Pennsylvania consumer reported on BBB’s Scam Tracker, “I paid $700 for a kitten that does not exist. My kid is devastated because she was waiting for a kitten to be delivered to our house today.” Another consumer wrote, “All we wanted was a puppy to help us get over the deaths of our beloved pets.” Consumers should be careful when searching for their new furry family member online, which has become the new marketplace for adopting pets. Online ads usually show photos of adorable puppies or kittens to be re-homed, sold at a low price or offere...

  • Scammers push medical devices on seniors

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Nov 1, 2015

    Alaskan seniors are being targeted with unwelcomed calls from telemarketers pitching unneeded medical devices. Better Business Bureau and the Alaska Medicare Information Office say the callers will trick seniors into parting with personal information and agreeing to medical devices that may be lesser quality than claimed. Alaska health officials say the practice has been rampant in the state. The callers often times will offer Medicare recipients free or discounted wrist splints, back braces and diabetic supplies, even though they may not need...

  • Outrageous scam stories are sadly true

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Oct 1, 2015

    Earlier this year, I wrote a blog on lottery scams and the vulnerability of seniors to this type of scheme – whether by phone, mail, or email. Since then, I have received more reports from victims. Community partners throughout the state have all mentioned an uptick in cases of lottery scams. Just last month, I spoke with the daughter of a 91-year old woman who contacted Better Business Bureau with her mom’s story. It’s a heartbreaking story. She told me that her mom has sent a total of $20,000 to scammers. It all began with the scam artis...

  • Storm-damaged cars will be flooding the market

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Aug 1, 2015

    With the recent floods in Texas, Oklahoma and other states, consumers looking to purchase a used car—even in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska—should be wary. Scammers and unscrupulous car dealers often ship these damaged vehicles to other states to sell to unsuspecting buyers after natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) estimates up to 10,000 insured vehicles in Texas had water damage from the May 2015 floods. Flood-damaged vehicles that have been declared a total loss by an insurance com...

  • Don't let a travel scam spoil your vacation plan

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Jul 1, 2015

    ’Tis the season for summer vacations! Whether traveling in your home state, throughout the U.S. or to a foreign country, taking precautions and knowing about potential scams could save you from a ruined vacation. Book online securely When booking travel arrangements and hotels online, it is safer to go to a company’s official website or call them directly. Do not click on online ads or links from emails. If using travel search engines, be wary of sites that offer prices significantly lower than other sites. If you choose to book through a thi...

  • Free Shred Day and Financial Fitness Fair in Anchorage

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Apr 1, 2015

    Twice a year, Better Business Bureaus across the country sponsor free, local shredding events called “Secure Your ID Day,” in order to bring public awareness of the risks of identity theft. One of the events will be held in Anchorage on April 18 at The Mall at Sears, 600 E. Northern Lights Blvd., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Shred Alaska will have shred trucks in the parking lot by Carr’s and will provide free shredding of up to 3 boxes. There will also be recycling for old cell phones. The Financial Fitness Fair will take place inside the Mall with...

  • Effects of credit card and ID theft are widespread and longlasting

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau of Alaska|Nov 1, 2014

    We hear it all the time: a big corporation suffers yet another data breach, putting thousands of consumers’ personal information at risk. Or it could be your neighbors, friends – maybe even yourself – who have had to change all their credit card numbers because a scammer managed to steal their identities. The truth is that credit card and ID theft has become too common these days and even if you’ve managed to escape from being a victim, chances are good you’ll become one in the future. Consider this: according to an article written by Mashab...

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