Back to School Means Back to Scamming

Other than the holidays, New York parents spend more money during the back to school buildup than at any other time of year. Unscrupulous individuals and companies are more than willing to get part of that money.

kids going back to school, running on a street

The New York Consumer Protection Bureau reminds people who shop online to only use sites that have a padlock icon and an “HTTPS” address. Additionally, if an advertisement offers a 50 percent discount or other extreme deal, it is likely a scam, remarked New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. 

Privacy breaches are a concern as well. Only put your child’s full name on the insides of books, backpacks, and other such items. Additionally, be mindful of how schools and after-school organizations use the online information they collect. “Children should not have to give up their privacy rights to do their homework,” Rodriguez remarked.

Financial Scams

Many families live from paycheck to paycheck. Roughly 60 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Therefore, a financial scam, even if it only causes them to lose a few hundred dollars, could be crippling. Some common ones to look out for include:

  • Upfront Fee Fraud: This scheme, which is also called advance fee fraud, promises goods, money, services, or a discount in exchange for an upfront membership fee, taxes, or participation fee. A variation of this scam involves helping law enforcement catch thieves.
  • Nigerian Fraud: This venerable scheme combines upfront fee fraud with a data breach. The sender promises riches untold from Prince So-and-So if the recipient sends a few hundred dollars, or a few thousand dollars. Alternatively, the sender asks for personal bank account information to transfer these substantial riches.
  • Cashier’s Check Fraud: This one is complicated. Most people trust cashier’s checks, which are relatively easy to fake. When a depositor puts a cashier’s check into an account, the law requires the bank to make the funds available quickly, even if the check hasn’t cleared. When the instrument comes back unpaid, the bank usually reverses the charge and takes the funds out of the depositor’s account.
  • Debt Elimination Fraud: These scammers promise to make you debt free in exchange for a modest upfront or membership fee that they simply pocket. In general, if an offer promises something that’s too good to be true, it’s probably fake.

Generally, it’s very difficult for victims to get their money back in these scams. Scammers are often almost impossible to locate. 

The situation is different if the fraud is an elaborate, large-scale scheme, like a pyramid scheme. A New York personal injury attorney can often secure restitution with just a demand letter. But most scammers are small-timers who, in many cases, don’t live in New York or even in the United States.

Data Breaches

Data privacy breaches are very common in small businesses. Usually, these small firms don’t have the same electronic protections as banks, hospitals, or other such institutions. Therefore, even a relatively inexperienced hacker could steal bank account data, credit card numbers, and other personal information.

Sometimes, the hacker doesn’t want money. Many “hacktivists” break into electronic systems to disrupt or expose them. Actually, in many cases, the hacker doesn’t even want these things. Many people break into electronic databases just to prove to themselves that they can do it.

A majority of privacy breaches happen because someone leaves a thumb drive or other device unattended. Similarly, a worker could log on at a local coffee shop or other business that has unsecure internet access. 

It’s important for data breach victims to partner with New York personal injury attorneys. It’s rather easy for businesses to bury individual claims, so nothing changes. However, if hundreds or thousands of victims band together, the case is almost sure to make the headlines. This pressure forces these businesses to change their operating models and make customer data safer.

Be safe this back to school season. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik. We handle various kinds of civil cases on a nationwide basis.