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Back to School: Ed Tech and Student Commercial Surveillance

The pandemic created a shift to virtual schooling and online learning and resulted in an ed tech industry boom. Ed tech, or online educational services, continues to grow and evolve. With the growth of the industry, children’s privacy issues have also heightened. The collection of children’s personal information in the school and ed tech context and the data’s use and monetization for commercial purposes continue to present concerning issues. The Federal Trade Commission is the government’s consumer protection watchdog. Its authority includes enforcing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection...

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Deadline for Scam Refunds Extended

Are you a victim of a scam, such as a grandparent or romance scam, where the fraudster tricked you into making a payment via a Western Union wire transfer? If the fraud took place between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your losses pursuant to an agreement between Western Union and the government. A recently extended deadline allows victims who have not previously submitted a petition for remission to do so by August 31, 2022. Back in 2017, following a joint investigation conducted by the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission,...

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Beware Miami Devastation Charity Scams

The tragic events in Miami surrounding the collapse of the Champlain Towers South building have spurred many people to donate funds to those struck by the disaster.  Unfortunately, reports have surfaced of donors being scammed through fraudulent sites.  If you want to donate, be mindful of the following to avoid being victimized: Fake charities can look real, with scammers choosing a name similar to a legit charity’s name, complete with an authentic-looking logo. Make sure you give by check or directly online to reputable, established organizations; don’t use a peer-to-peer app (like Venmo)...

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Checking Your Credit Report  Post-COVID

Checking your credit report, an important personal finance management tool, has taken on new significance in the wake of COVID. Your credit report contains your credit history: how much debt you’ve incurred and what type, your debt payment history, loan balances, repossessions or foreclosures, liens, judgments, and bankruptcies. It contains a list of every credit account you’ve opened. Credit history is used to formulate your credit score which determines eligibility for all types of credit, from obtaining a mortgage, getting a car loan, renting a home, to qualifying for an advantageous interest...

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Vaccine Cards Don’t Belong On Facebook

After you have your COVID-19 vaccine, you get a CDC vaccination card that tells you what vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where or from which healthcare professional you received it. It will also contain your full name, date of birth, vaccine lot and location, and your patient number — your medical record or IIS (Immunization Identification Systems) number. The card is updated when you get a second vaccination. While you should keep your vaccination card safe and secure for future use (for example, you may need to use it as a pass to gain entry to a venue requiring proof...

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Common IRS Scams Escalate During Tax Season

The 2020 federal income tax filing due date for individuals has been extended from April 15 to May 17, 2021. It’s a good time to remind taxpayers to be vigilant of common IRS impersonation scams frequently targeting the elderly, students, and immigrants that escalate during tax season.  In IRS agent phone scams, fraudsters provide false names and IDs and spoof Caller ID so their calls appear to come from the IRS. Victims are threatened that they owe the IRS money and must pay up immediately. Sometimes a fake agent tells the victim she owes delinquent taxes and demands immediate payment by prepaid...

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Grandparent Scam Surfaces Again

An elderly relative phoned me the other day, concerned that she had been the target of an attempted scam. Somebody claiming to be her grandson had called to report that he had had a car accident while driving and was in the hospital, and she needed to send money immediately for his care. My relative told the caller to call his mother, hung up, and immediately made a call herself to the grandson’s mother. She discovered that he was safe at home watching TV (and didn’t drive in any event). The call was a scam, a type of elder financial exploitation that targets the elderly and attempts to scam...

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Romance Scams Up Due to COVID

In an online romance scam, a fraudster seeks to take advantage of a victim looking for love on a dating or social networking website by pretending to want a romantic relationship. The scammer’s goal is to obtain access to the victim’s financial or personal information and steal their money. While this year has been an especially bountiful one for romance scammers, as COVID has enabled them to prey on people’s loneliness and isolation to con them in greater numbers than in previous years, this scam is typically prevalent this time of year. Increased isolation brought about by lockdowns, the need...

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Unemployment Insurance Fraud

By Gille Ann Rabbin, Esq., CIPP/US, CIPP/E   I was hoping not to write about scams for the second column in a row, but when a victimized relative came to me for advice last week I thought it might be helpful to revisit the area again. The flavor of the month (actually the past six or so months)? Unemployment insurance fraud. Unemployment insurance fraud can, like most frauds, take several forms (providing false information on an application, saying you’re not working when you are, working off the books while collecting benefits, etc.). A particularly prevalent form consists of using another...

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