Do you like car stickers? Have you for once asked yourself how much information these labels you choose might be giving away about you?
With a lot of scrutiny these days on privacy protection, we are advised to block as many avenues as possible to which data can be collected about us and our lives by people.
The reason been that, the more information somebody has on you, the easier it is to hide behind your identity and defraud others.
But can car bumper stickers serve as a source of info? Apparently it can.
Through a local safety department in South Carolina, the issue became public knowledge. They warned that they can be used by criminals to get different types of information about you and your family.
Some examples are stickers that links you to the military, divulge your personal interests, identify schools you or your children attend and their gender. It might be assumed that you are carrying a weapon in your car if it carries a pro-gun sticker, making it a target for thieves.
Some people put so many stickers on their car, making it perfectly possible for criminals to create a picture of the person that can be used to make friends with them or for identity theft.
A safety department spokesperson was quoted by a local TV station saying that younger teens who want to personalize their cars might be vulnerable.
The spokesperson said, “young teenage girls or teenagers, they want a personalized plate because it’s cool”
“They want something that’s kind of cool, so if they put like their name on there or their initials on there, somebody that might be interested in them or interested in following them around, they can say ‘Hey Amy, guess what? I know you from someplace.’”
A teen can be disarmed by that, there by paving way for a conversation with someone whose motives might be dubious.
The message is; think carefully about what information you are giving away when posting those labels, if you are a bumper sticker type. The best are jokey or generic types.
New wrap scam
Recently, there has been a lot of reoccurrence in one of the scams associated with car stickers.
This is the car wrap scam, which we’ve talked about before.
Car wrap is a legitimate marketing activity. Branding messages promoting products or a local service are plastered on vehicles. However, the cars do not belong to members of the general public, but to the firm using them.
But what looks like a car wrap program is actually an advance payment scam in disguise in the case of this trick.
Advertisements are placed on line by the crooks offering to pay car owners for letting their autos be decorated with a promotional message or brand identity.
It looks like a good deal and an easy way to make money in as much as you don’t have issues with your car being transformed into an advertisement on wheels!
But that won’t happen in this scam.
A check that is supposed to cover their fee and cost of sticker or paint job is gotten by people who reply to the ads on time. They are supposed to bank the check, remove their fee, and then send the balance to the painter.
This is done before the victim’s bank will discover that the check is fake and that the wrapper is the scammer, who will get their money thereby leaving the victim with debts to pay back to the bank for that amount they withdrew.
With hundreds of reported victims, the scam has been around for years. It has now re-emerged again and their victims are mostly students who are often hard-pressed for cash and will jump at any opportunity without thinking too much about it.
The scammers often use well-known brand names; Dr Prepper, red bull, and, monster energy are particularly common in the latest round- to make victims think it is real.
Recently, students in Rutherford County, Tennessee received emails inviting them to apply. They received a number of documents including contracts and other things – making it look like a serious and genuine deal that is followed by fake check.
The scammers put pressure on their victims to quickly bank the check and pass the balance to the ‘wrapper’ immediately.
A potential victim received a check for $3,650 in another recent case in Texas
The scam was unusually barefaced. The victim was supposed to buy three $1,000 money orders with the check, and mail them to a specific address and keep the $650 balance for themselves.
If only it was that easy to make money! Only for the crook, it seems.
A site that collates information on car wrap scam victims said that they have received nearly 200 complaints. Fortunately, a lot of the targets discovered it was a scam before they were discovered.
As we have always warned, if a check is accompanied by a request for you to wire part of the sum to another party or to forward money orders or gift cards, you should never accept it as an advance payment.
For the record, Dr Pepper and other big brand names will never offer to pay regular drivers for allowing car stickers or repainting of their vehicles. So, this is always a scam. CWP