The Target Data Breach And Other Consumer Protection Issues

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Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

The breach of data on Target shoppers will potentially affect millions of consumers. Larry Meiller finds out how we should protect ourselves.

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  • Love Is In The Air And Online But Use Caution, Experts Say

    Valentine’s Day is coming up soon and that means it might be a good time to talk about how to avoid dating scams for those looking for love.

    Michelle Reinen, the director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said online dating website offer great potential, but there can be drawbacks.

    “It can be a great source of meeting people, and an easier way to find someone who will match up with you in commonalties instead of just testing the market out there and randomly meeting people,” Reinen said. “But, you really need to use caution at the same to make sure you’re not taken in by a scammer because you just have an overwhelming desire to have a connection with someone.”

    Reinen advised: “Take the time to watch out for the red flags.”

    Those include moving too quickly to off-line communication, or shifting the conversation to private chat rooms sooner than seems prudent. She recommended staying on the dating site and keeping the communications there until one is really comfortable advancing the relationship.

    When it is time to meet in person, she said the safest way is the meet in a public place — and meet locally.

    “Don’t fall for the story that ‘Oh, I need money in order to get there so wire me some money so I can buy an airplane ticket and come meet you,’” Reinen cautioned. “That’s a dead giveaway and a huge red flag”

    Sandy Chalmers, the administrator of the Division of Trade and Consumer Protection, suggested that anyone with a friend or loved one who is doing online dating might have a conversation with them about safety.

    “Make sure they understand if you see them getting drawn into one of these relationships,” she said.

    The Bureau of Consumer Protection offers the following information to consumers:

    If you intend to look online for your Valentine, be mindful that scammers are also on those sites looking for you and your pocketbook. Women over the age of 40 who are divorced, widowed or disabled are the most common targets, but every age and demographic is at risk. The crooks behind these scams usually operate from overseas and ask the victim to wire money.

    Information shared through online dating sites can also be used in extortion scams. In some cases, victims meet someone on a dating site and are asked to move the conversation to a particular social networking site where the talk turns intimate. Victims are later sent a link to a website where those conversations were posted along with photos, their phone numbers and claims that they are “cheaters.” In order to have that information removed, victims are told they could make a $99 payment — but there is no indication that the other side of the bargain was upheld.

    It is possible that you are being targeted for a sweetheart scam if your online love interest:

    • Claims to be from the United States but is currently “travelling,” “deployed with the military,” or “working overseas”
    • Professes love for you almost instantly
    • Asks you to leave the dating site and communicate by personal email or instant messages
    • Requests that you send personal information including social security, bank account or credit card numbers
    • Asks you to cash checks for him/her
    • Makes excuses for not meeting in person, such as last-minute financial, medical or family emergencies
    • Asks you to send money by wire transfer to pay for airfare, visas or government documents or to help a family member in distress. Never wire money to someone you do not know or have not met in person. Wiring money is like sending cash — once it is gone, you cannot get it back.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Michelle Reinen Guest
  • Sandy Chalmers Guest

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