Here’s a warning for all of us who sometimes, in the chaos of the day-to-day, don’t read our mail as carefully as we should.
Warning: This fake invoice scam looks like a real bill
A reader recently posted the letter purportedly received through the mail on money expert Clark Howard’s Facebook page and it looks on the surface to be a regular, ordinary bill — only it isn’t.
The invoice is a faux renewal notice for annual website hosting. It shows a bill of $180 payable to “Sunshine Biz Services Inc.”
It says: “To pay with a credit card or to avoid receiving paper invoices in the future, please sign up for paperless billing at http://www.trendywebsolutions.com.”
Trendy Web Solutions looks to be a real site that does web hosting. The only problem is, the people receiving this letter may not even have web hosting, much less through Trendy Web Solutions.
While this looks and sounds like a bill, it goes on to say: ““You are under no obligation to make any payments on account of this offer unless you accept this offer. This notice is not a bill, it is rather an easy means of payment should you decide to renew your web hosting with Sunshine Biz Services.”
Scams like this try to confuse you with elaborate language that make things sound one way, when it in fact they are another. Don’t fall for it!
I called the number on the bill to get to the bottom of this and to at least notify the company that their name was being used in a scam. In a matter of seconds, though, the recording quickly proved that the operation was fraudulent. While I tried to wait through the prompts, the automated voice finally said, “This is a solicitation, goodbye!”
This particular scam has been around at least since 2015, according to a Reddit post.
Money expert Clark Howard and Team Clark get notified of scams on a regular basis. In addition to mail fraud schemes, Clark says, “We have had a number of calls from people who have lost money to scamsters impersonating family and friends,” Clark says.
If you ever get a suspicious letter, here are three things to do immediately:
What to do if you get a scam letter
- Tell the FTC: Because keeping consumers safe is a major part of their charge, report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission. You can file a claim at ftc.gov/complaint.
- Tell the U.S. Postal Service: Because you could stop or prevent the mail service from being used to deliver fraudulent material, it’s always a good idea to report any suspicious letters or scams to your local post office. Report your concern to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service as mail fraud. from there, the Postal Inspection Service will investigate.
- Tell a friend: If criminals have gotten your info, they may also have accessed that of those close to you. Warn your friends, family and co-workers about any scam so they can protect themselves.
- Don’t send money: Whatever you do, don’t send suspicious companies money or even give them your personal information. Ignore the bill or rip it up.
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