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Recent Consumer Alerts
In addition to the below links, you can find a list of the latest scams discussed on the Attorney General's All Consuming blog.


Letters claim you've won a $1 million prize.
The worst economic downturn in generations has created a perfect storm of financial shocks: evaporating investments, foreclosures and job losses. To add insult to injury, a new generation of thieves increasingly targets the dwindling bank balances of struggling Washington residents.  The Attorney General’s Office has created a new Recession Survival guide on its Web site at www.atg.wa.gov/economy.aspx to help Washington residents avoid schemes and access legitimate resources to survive the recession.
The Washington Attorney General’s Office today issued a warning about a company selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door in Washington and several other states. Fresh Start Opportunities claims that money from the subscriptions will be used to help young people get a “fresh start on life,” but the company isn’t a registered charity.
Scammers posing as Washington Department of Revenue employees are calling Washington businesses directing them to a bogus international phone number and charging them for the call, the department warned.
SEATTLE - Seattle City Light is urging its customers to be on guard against telephone con artists posing as utility bill collectors who appear to be targeting customers with Asian surnames.
The Washington Attorney General’s Office is alerting residents about a phone scam in which Spanish-speaking callers claim to be representatives of an insurance company and ask for bank account information.
Unemployed workers in Washington and the rest of the country are targets for crooks posing as headhunters, the Attorney General’s Office warned today. Scams include bogus job offers and realistic-looking e-mail messages that contain links to computer viruses or phishing sites.
January 22, 2009 > Watch out for flood-related scams
The Attorney General's Offfice issued a warning about schemes targeting Washngton residents whose homes were damaged by recent floods. Beware of cons, unregistered contractors and flood cars.
If you have a gift card for KB Toys, shop now. The Washington Attorney General’s Office was notified by legal counsel for KB Toys, Inc., that the company is liquidating its stores and will no longer accept gift cards or store credit after Sunday, Jan. 11.
December 19, 2008 > Web scam targets the unemployed
The Washington State Employment Security Department issued a warning about scam that preys on unemployed workers by offering to help file their claim online – for a fee.
The Washington State Department of Financial Institution’s Consumer Services Division advises homeowners who are delinquent on their mortgage to be cautious about using the services of someone offering to help them work with their lender to modify the terms of their home loan.
Cons are now calling seniors, claiming to offer a new medical discount card for Medicaid and Medicare patients.
Seniors reminded that government agencies don’t phone for personal info
OLYMPIA –The Attorney General’s Office is warning Washington residents that they should not provide Social Security numbers, bank accounts or other personal information to callers claiming to be from the government. If past events are any indication, cons are likely to start working the phone lines after today’s announcement about the availability of a new prepaid debit card to receive federal benefits.
Spammers are using e-mails that appear to be from MSNBC.com and CNN to try to trick recipients into visiting Web sites laden with malware. (From AG's All Consuming blog)
KENT -- A Kent woman received a call from someone claiming to help her repair her debt. The consumer became suspicious when the caller asked for personal information – including her phone number and the security code on the back of her credit card. (From AG's All Consuming blog)
RICHLAND – If your grandchild called seeking help, would you send money? The Washington Attorney General’s Office is warning Washington residents about the “grandparent scam,” where cons posing as relatives try to convince elderly victims to wire cash to help pay for emergency car repairs, medical bills – or even post bail.
OLYMPIA -- Consumers are finding Broadway Lending Group’s website and are contacting them regarding obtaining a loan. The company requires the consumer to pay a certain number of monthly payments in advance of receiving loan proceeds. This appears to be an advance fee scam.
SEATTLE -- Seattle City Light is urging its customers to be on guard against telephone con artists posing as utility bill collectors who appear to be targeting customers with Asian surnames.
OLYMPIA -- The Department of Licensing says watch out for a new scam targeting Washington car owners. Cons posing as DOL representatives are contacting people and telling them their vehicle tabs are expired.  They then ask for credit card information to renew the tabs over the phone.
SEATTLE – The official-looking postcard in your mailbox warns that your car’s warranty is about to expire and urges you to call a toll-free number to ensure you’re covered. But think twice before you dial. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division says these mailers are advertisements aimed at pressuring you into buying an expensive service contract.
OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna today cautioned Washington residents to beware of possible flood-related scams including fraudulent home repair offers and charity appeals.
SEATTLE –  Attorney General Rob McKenna today urged homeowners to check out contractors they hire to help repair their storm-damaged homes and remove fallen trees caused by yesterday’s 40-50 mph winds.
SPOKANE – Attorney General Rob McKenna today urged consumers to check the tires on their SUV, pickup or van in case they are among those being recalled. Attorneys General in 24 states issued consumer alerts and have formed a working group to look into concerns that an estimated 270,000 tires brought into the U.S. from China may be potentially unsafe.
DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE -- The Washington State Department of Revenue has received reports that taxpayers have received automated phone messages from a party that identifies itself as the Department of Revenue.
LAKEWOOD – Attorney General Rob McKenna warned Washington residents that con artists are becoming increasingly skilled at customizing their pitches. Residents of Lakewood, Washington, have been targeted twice in recent weeks for identity theft and financial fraud scams. The cases appear to be unrelated, but show how far criminals will go in order to convince someone to send money or provide personal information.
TACOMA – Attorney General Rob McKenna today warned businesses to beware of traveling salesmen who fraudulently claim to be federal government representatives and use coercive tactics to sell labor law posters. Cons were recently reported in the Tacoma area.
OLYMPIA – Thousands of Washington apartment homes and hotels may be especially vulnerable to fire. The Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office says up to 500,000 fire sprinkler heads in Washington may be defective – and officials don’t know where they are located.
OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna today warned Washington homeowners and businesses to beware of cons claiming to repair your driveway. Scammers have been reported in communities across Washington, most recently in the Vancouver and Tacoma areas.
TACOMA – The telemarketers’ pitch seems innocent enough: They want you to buy trash bags, light bulbs or gift cards at jacked-up prices. They claim your cash will help the homeless or support employment for those with disabilities. But state officials and consumer advocates are warning residents not to be misled by these sales calls.

A job ad for a “survey agent” is too good to be true, the Better Business Bureau warned today. Scammers have randomly emailed people who have posted resumes on sites including CareerBuilder.com. Potential victims are offered a position as a “survey agent” for a company called Horizon Polls, LLC, with the promise of making $1,500-$3,000 weekly. The company uses bogus addresses throughout the Northwest.

SEATTLE – Washington consumers looking to lose weight or wrinkles have jumped at “free trial” offers for açaí berry and resveratrol products. But the fruity supplements came with unexpected costs, say officials at the Washington Attorney General’s Office who want to warn shoppers about deceptive advertising practices.

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is warning Veterans not to give credit card numbers over the phone to callers claiming to update VA prescription information.
SEATTLE -- If a young person knocks on your door and says they're selling magazines for a charity, wait before reaching for your pocketbook. The Washington Attorney General’s Office, which issued a warning about Fresh Start Opportunities in March, says solicitors have returned to Washington state.
The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be extremely wary of pervasive online ads offering the promise of a whiter, brighter smile.  BBB has received a recent onslaught of complaints from consumers who thought they were signing up for a free trial of teeth whitening products but were repeatedly billed for products and services they didn’t want.
Our hearts were torn when four Lakewood police officers were killed this week. Many are looking for ways to donate money to help families of the victims. But some fundraisers may not be legit.
December 2, 2009 > Swine flu for your computer!
An email asking state employees to register for a swine flu vaccination program is hogwash, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Clicking on a link in the message can infect your computer.

An e-mail message reminding people to RSVP for a conference includes a link that can infect a computer with program called Spyeye that can steal login credentials.

Congress passes health care reform and days later, scammers start peddling phony health insurance policies.

April 7, 2010 > iPad scammers already at work

 Even before the iPad was released to the public, scammers were busy devising ways to take advantage of early adopters. The Better Business Bureau warns eager shoppers to stay away from offers to become a “tester” just to get a free iPad.

Local bakeries are being targeted by a foreign crook placing orders for fancy wedding cakes.

Si tiene una cuna de baranda móvil, revise la página de Web www.cpsc.gov para ver si se ha retirado su cuna del mercado.

April 30, 2010 > Parents warned of crib recalls

Parents and caregivers are being alerted to a substantial recall of cribs linked to child deaths and injuries.

May 25, 2010 > Selling gold for cash

Thinking of selling gold for cash? Here are some things to consider.

The Yakama Nation issued a warning today after individuals visited the tribe’s headquarters on Tuesday to recruit tribal offers for supposedly lucrative jobs cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. The recruiters promised bus transportation to Louisiana and Florida, lodging and wages of $40 per hour. Many tribal members eagerly offered up their personal information and some even quit their jobs.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), with the cooperation of seven firms, is announcing voluntary recalls of more than two million cribs to address drop-side hazards and other hazards that affect the safety of young children.

Several sources are reporting a spike in automatic telephone calls warning folks about fraud on their credit card and bank accounts. The robocalls direct customers to call a phone number to “verify” their account information.

The FBI is warning people about a new scam in which computer hackers tie up the phone lines as a diversion while hitting the victim's bank account.

SEATTLE – Scammers posing as health inspectors are calling restaurant operators.

Better Business Bureau is warning car shoppers to beware of websites offering too-good-to-be-true deals on repossessed cars. BBB has heard from people across the country who thought they were buying from a reputable dealer online but were actually sending money to scammers posing as legitimate, already-established community dealerships.

Better Business Bureau is receiving inquiries and complaints about a company that offers to connect timeshare owners to renters and buyers, but has left several clients questioning the company's legitimacy. Complaints allege consumers paid between $1,000 and $4,000 to VP Coast Properties; also going by Coast to Coast Timeshare and Coast to Coast Vacation Properties. After purchasing, most complainants have had trouble reaching the company.

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) today warned Washington homeowners and businesses to beware of asphalt paving scammers that may pressure you to repair your driveway.

L&I recommends these 10 tips for hiring the best contractor to avoid getting burned by a shady contractor.

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) urges consumers seeking short-term and/or small loans from companies seen on TV or online to be vigilant, read the small print and make sure any company they work with is licensed to do business in the state of Washington.

Consumers should be aware that lenders associated with these types of organizations may or may not be licensed in Washington State or adhering to our state’s laws. Because of this, the protections in our state’s laws - including limitations on fees that may be charged and laws relating to unlicensed lenders not being able to use our courts - may not be available to consumers using these services should they have trouble with the lender down the line.

If you get a letter from the “State Record Retrieval Board” ordering you to pay $87 to obtain a  copy of your property deed, don’t panic. And don’t pay.

December 20, 2010 > Cheap fake goods carry a high cost

As you rush to finish up your Christmas shopping, be sure to slow down and make sure you aren’t clicking on either a fake Web site or a Web site that sells fakes.

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions is warning consumers to verify the license of any lending professional with which they are considering doing business. Northway Financial dba Cash Transfer Centers dba Zip19.com provides payday loans to consumers via the internet and is located in Malta.

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) urges consumers to verify the license of any lending professional they are considering doing business with. National Payday Loan provides payday loans to consumers via the internet. This company uses other internet names such as US National Payday Loan, SignMyLoan.Net, Invcity; Enom Inc, Aboriginal GR Enterprises, and GoMyTown LLC.

December 21, 2010 > DFI Alert: 500FastCash.com

500FastCash.com, provides payday loans to consumers via the Internet. The company is not licensed by the Washington Department of Financial Institutions.

December 17, 2010 > CPSC outlaws drop-side cribs

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously to approve new mandatory standards for full-size and non-full-size baby cribs as mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). The federal crib standards had not been updated in nearly 30 years and these new rules are expected to usher in a safer generation of cribs. Once they become effective, the mandatory crib standards will: (1) stop the manufacture and sale of dangerous, traditional drop-side cribs; (2) make mattress supports stronger; (3) make crib hardware more durable; and (4) make safety testing more rigorous.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has received numerous reports of a fraudulent e-mail that has the appearance of being sent from the FDIC.

SEATTLE – It starts with a desperate phone call, e-mail or even an instant message from someone posing as a grandchild or a friend. He was arrested overseas. She was mugged. Please send money right away. Except it’s not who you think – it’s a con artist. Washington residents are losing thousands of dollars to manipulative criminals claiming to be relatives in need of help.

SEATTLE – If you have a gift card for Anchor Blue, shop now. The clothing store chain is closing all of its stores and will honor gift cards, certificates and store credits as payment for purchases through Jan. 28.

February 24, 2011 > Three-digit cell phone phishing scam

Three-digit calls to cell phones appear to be a phishing scam.

February 23, 2011 > Scamming S.A.T. takers

A woman received a phone call from someone claiming to be from The College Board who wanted $129 for materials related to the S.A.T. that her grandson had supposedly ordered.

Fat-finger dialing" of a toll-free number  can cost you dearly. Learn about "10-10" or "dial-around" codes.

Internet scammers are pretending to be soldiers to seduce women.

Grandparent scammers have added a new layer to their stack of lies: Caller ID spoofing.

Thieves are using glue to disable ATM keys.

OLYMPIA – Advertisers are using phrases such as “Unemployment Information Center” and “Get Unemployment Benefits” in emails targeting the unemployed. The emails ask for personal information and offer services ranging from debt relief and credit-score checks to tarot readings.

March 29, 2011 > Tax scam targets seniors

A warning today about e-mail and phone scams targeting senior taxpayers.

March 30, 2011 > Scammers preying on immigrants

From sea to shining sea, scammers are preying on those pursuing the American dream. Cons, businesses and even unscrupulous attorneys are ogling the wallets of immigrants seeking green cards. For those seeking the right to live in the United States, the path to citizenship can be blocked by bad legal advice or blatant fraud.

SEATTLE – The Washington Attorney General’s Office cautions homeowners about paying to participate in a “mass joinder” lawsuit promising mortgage relief.

An alert from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions about a scam where Check N Go impersonators are contacting Washington residents regarding supposedly delinquent payday loans.

As spring temperatures rise, the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is warning Washington homeowners of a seasonal asphalt paving scam that may pressure you to repair your driveway.

April 20, 2011 > DFI Alert: Iraqi Dinar Scams
Several websites have recently begun advertising investment opportunities in Iraqi Dinars, the currency of Iraq. These websites are asking the consumers to send a check, wire, money order, or pay cash upon delivery of the Dinars. What consumers are not told is that the Dinars can be redeemed only in Iraq, as most of the established currency exchange houses and banking institutions cannot convert the Dinar to US dollars. Since no exchange exists for the Iraqi Dinar, dealers can charge whatever they want to sell and buy back the Dinars.

An alert from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions about Quick Cash aka Financial Law repeatedly harassing Washington residents regarding supposedly delinquent payday loans.

An alert from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions about US Loans repeatedly harassing Washington residents regarding supposedly delinquent payday loans.

An alert from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions regarding individuals using company names such as Hope Now Alliance and National Mitigators to conduct loan modification scams.
The FBI has shut down 1st American Law Center of Oceanside California for operating a loan modification scam. Victims of the scam are being asked to file a complaint with the California Bar Association.

An alert from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions regarding mycash.com advertising payday loans to Washington residents via text message. The company is not licensed to do business in Washington State.

Cyber criminals are hacking bank accounts of small-to-medium size businesses in the U.S. and sending unauthorized wire transfers to Chinese economic and trade companies located near the Russian border, the FBI warned today. Between March 2010 and April 2011, authorities identified 20 incidents leading to $11 million in losses and about $20 million in attempted thefts.

The credit card data of Sony PlayStation and Qriocity users may have been stolen, news sources reported this afternoon. We suggest users close out the credit card on file with Sony and place a fraud alert on their credit reports.

Malware purporting to contain information on Osama bin Laden is all over the Internet.

The Olympia Police Department is warning the public not to give information to callers posing as debt collection companies who attempt to collect personal information.


 

An alert from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions regarding JNC Services of Las Vegas Nevada conducting a possible loan modification scam.

An alert from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions regarding Quick Loan Audit conducting a possible loan modification scam.

Remember, government programs will never make unsolicited calls seeking financial or health information. Anyone who does so is a crook.


 

An alert from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions regarding MyNextDayCash.com not being licensed to provide payday loans to Washington residents and making debits from borrowers bank accounts in amounts that may be in excess of the loan terms.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported that scammers somehow hacked the phone system at a Seattle hotel in an effort to obtain credit card numbers. Reports out of Texas prove this isn't an isolated incident.

DFI has received complaints from Washington consumers stating that CheckAdvanceNow.com is sending text-messages advertising payday loans.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center warned of a growing number of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, extortion emails targeting physicians and payday loan customers, fake donation websites and messages purporting to be from the FBI that contain a destructive type of software called a trojan. A DDoS attack is generally organized by hackers and occurs when multiple systems flood the bandwidth or resources of a targeted server.

July 14, 2011 > FDIC warns of phishing emails

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has received numerous reports of fraudulent emails that appear to be from the FDIC.

August 10, 2011 > Keys to avoiding locksmith fraud

 Locking yourself out of your car or home is frustrating enough. But imagine calling a locksmith then being charged double – or even more –  the quoted fee

August 15, 2011 > FBI, eBay warn of car sales scam

Thinking of buying a car online? Read this first.

SEATTLE – Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna today warned consumers about a text-message trap to capture financial information and drain credit card and bank accounts. Such text message scams are called “smishing.” “If you don’t wish to be smished, ignore text messages that look like they’re coming from


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