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Bogus advertising hustle bites veterinarian

The Albuquerque-area veterinarian had a bedtime ritual of playing solitaire or on her iPhone before falling asleep. Annoying pop-ups are just part of the routine, she says, but one in particular caught her eye: it was an ad showing a cabinet for sale for $59.99.

The woman bit and used her debit card to purchase the item, although by the end of the next day much more was charged to her card – nearly $400.

“It was a scam,” she said.

Not only did the bogus sellers charge her for three cabinets, but she was also charged for 12 magazine subscriptions.

Her bank, Wells Fargo, spotted the suspicious activity and contacted her. Her account was credited, and she canceled the debit card. She was lucky.

More common pop-up scams include Amazon look-alike ads that might say, “Congratulations, Amazon.com User.” Or you are looking at a legitimate website and you get a pop-up that says a problem has been detected, such as a virus lurking in your phone.

The idea is to get users to provide personal information or to try to install malware. Such ads are known as “malvertising.”

The best thing to do is to close the tab or even the browsers, advises Kim Komando, who hosts a weekly radio show and website about technology. However, Apple warns that some of these ads have fake buttons that look like legitimate close buttons. Make sure you’re pressing the real deal.

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A free shredding event with identity protection in mind will be held from 10 a.m. to noon April 27 at the Black Dog Shredding Facility at 2800 Vassar NE.

The “Secure Your ID: Free Shredding” event is co-sponsored by the Better Business Bureau. The idea is to safely destroy documents that contain private information so a thief is not able to fish them out of your trash.

There’s a limit of two large garbage bags per person. For questions, contact the Better Business Bureau at (505) 346-0110 or by email at mybbb@bbbsw.org .

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A spot of good news: The struggle to battle robocalls has taken a step forward, with a recent announcement from AT&T and Comcast. The rivals said they were able to authenticate phone calls between the two separate networks in what they say is an industry first. This could lead to a system where one network could digitally “certify” that the call being made is legitimate and is not being spoofed. The network on the receiving end could read that certification and let the call go through. Or it could either block the call or flag it as coming from a suspicious number. “This milestone helps pave the way for AT&T and Comcast to begin offering authentication on calls between networks to customers later this year,” a joint news release said.

Also, Verizon has unveiled a free call-blocking service that will display an alert on smartphone screens notifying customers that an incoming call is likely from a fraudulent source. It will block some calls altogether. You can get this by downloading the app “Verizon Call Filter.”

Contact Ellen Marks at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210.

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