SCAM ALERT: Subscription renewals, online shopping, and more

Wilton Vinck

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The start of summer often signals an uptick in not only online shopping, but also online scams.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) Central Illinois is getting a couple of calls daily from people and businesses who fell victim to scams, the president and CEO, Jessica Tharp, said.

 “Online retailers are always a top scam that we see here at BBB, so checking out a company before you do business with them can save you so much headache,” said Tharp.

While online retail scams often target individuals, Tharp said a newer scam is targeting businesses.

The lure? Subscription renewals.

“Businesses have reported getting an email that looks like it’s from Quickbooks, an invoice to renew their subscription,” Tharp said. “Similarly, they’re also getting emails asking them to renew their subscription to Norton Anti-Lock, which is a virus protection company.” 

“While both of these companies are legitimate companies, these emails are not.”

Tharp’s advice is simple: “Don’t click on anything to renew a subscription. We encourage you to go to the site independently and log in to renew your subscription.”

A lot of people are getting notified that they have large charges on their accounts. If a caller asks to verify information, that should set off alarm bells, Tharp said.

“They offer to help you in a couple of ways. One is they want to verify your credit card number. So that’s a red flag. You never want to give your payment information over the phone. Amazon would never call you to verify your payment information,” she said. “They’re also directing consumers to go to a website or click on a link in a text that actually downloads malicious software or gives them access to your device.” 

But what if someone has already been scammed? Tharp said the first step is to contact that individual or business’s bank. Additionally, she says monitoring accounts regularly helps identify scams faster.

“They change every day… but the themes are the same. Scammers are after your personal information, they’re after your money,” Tharp said. “We just have to safeguard that information and those payment methods as closely as we can.”

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