Beware: Phone Scammers Are Posing as Equifax Reps

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iStock

There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for the recent Equifax data breach that compromised the personal information of more than 143 million people. After trying to assuage customers by offering ID and credit score monitoring, the company came under fire when they tried to insert some fine print in the monitoring agreement that waived a consumer’s right to sue as a result of the stolen data. Then, the company admitted the hackers had gained entry via a security issue that had a patch available—Equifax just hadn’t bothered to implement it.

The latest issue: On September 14, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) posted a warning on their blog cautioning consumers to be mindful of phone scammers posing as Equifax representatives.

“It’s a scam,” FTC employee Lisa Weintraub Schifferle writes. “Equifax will not call you out of the blue.”

Schifferle advises that anyone receiving a call from someone posing as an Equifax employee hang up immediately, even if your caller ID indicates it’s genuine. (Spoof numbers can mimic virtually any business.)

Unfortunately, that’s not all victims of the breach have to worry about. CBS News reports that information mined from the hack could be used in a scam to file tax returns and receive a refund—the person with the compromised identity won’t know it until he or she files their real return and is told it’s already been processed. If this happens, it's best to phone the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline (877-438-4338) for advice on how to proceed.

Experts are also asking consumers to be on guard against “spear-phishing,” the practice of sending emails that appear to be from banks or other businesses that have enough of your personal information to look legitimate. Clicking through might open the door to malware that can steal even more of your data. It’s best to initiate contact with financial institutions yourself and avoid clicking on any links. When it comes to your financial and personal information, a little paranoia can go a long way.

[h/t Lifehacker]

Toys “R” Us Is Officially Back in Business

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For people who grew up roaming endless rows of action figures and testing go-karts at Toys “R” Us, the news of its closing last year felt a little like the official end of childhood.

But we have good news for kids—and kids at heart—everywhere: Toys “R” Us is back in business. And it just opened its first new store at the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jersey. A similar store will open in Houston, Texas in early December.

According to NJ.com, Tru Kids Brands purchased the company’s liquidated assets at an auction last October, and they’ve teamed up with “experiential retailer” b8ta to create smaller, more creative brick-and-mortar stores. At about 6500 square feet, the Paramus store is much more streamlined than the former 40,000-square-foot warehouse-like models.

“Much smaller, but this store is packed with product, packed with amazing brands, packed with innovation, great technology,” Tru Kids Brands CEO Richard Barry said at the grand opening.

That innovation comes in the form of eye-catching toy displays, touch screens, a “Play-a-Round Theater” space for kids to entertain themselves while their parents shop, and even “Geoffrey’s Tree House,” a playhouse at the center of the store, complete with a winding staircase.

In addition to classics like LEGO, Nintendo, and Nerf, the store also features some newer brands, like Paw Patrol, that you won’t recognize from your original adventures as a Toys “R” Us kid.

The experiential establishments aren’t the only way Tru Kids is trying to revive the former toy store—they also recently relaunched the Toys “R” Us website, which now reroutes consumers to Target’s website, where they can complete their purchases.

Inspired to pull your old Hot Wheels and Furbies out of storage to relive their glory days? Not a bad idea, since some of them could be worth a fortune.

[h/t NJ.com]

Warning: That $75 Costco Coupon Circulating on Facebook Is a Scam

AntonioGuillem/iStock via Getty Images
AntonioGuillem/iStock via Getty Images

The promise of $75 to spend at Costco—especially mere weeks from Thanksgiving—is understandably hard to pass up, so it’s no surprise that a coupon advertising just that has been circulating on Facebook for the past several days.

However, ABC7 reports that Costco took to Facebook to set the record straight: It’s a scam. “While we love our fans and our members,” the company said in a post, “this offer is a SCAM, and in no way affiliated with Costco.”

According to Snopes.com, users who click the link to get the coupon are taken to website pages, which are not operated by Costco, that ask them to share their name, address, email address, date of birth, phone number, complete several surveys, and register for “Reward Offers,” which might entail filling out a credit card application or signing up for a subscription service.

With hindsight bias, the operation definitely seems suspicious—but the information it requires really isn’t much different than what we’re used to sharing on the internet. Plenty of companies offer similar coupons that you can claim through social media, and you’ve probably entered your credit card information for at least a free trial or two. Plus, when you’re accustomed to scrolling through your Facebook feed about as fast as your thumbs can go, it’s not hard to overlook the misspelled words or shoddy logos that should be red flags.

If you’ve already clicked on the fake Costco coupon or think you’ve been targeted by phishing or scamming, the company recommends that you contact costcocare@costco.com or report the attempt to the Federal Trade Commission here.

Worried you might be an easy target for cyber scams? Check out these seven pieces of personal information you should think twice about sharing on social media.

[h/t ABC7]

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