Beware: Phone Scammers Are Posing as Equifax Reps

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iStock

There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for the recent Equifax data breach that compromised the personal information of more than 143 million people. After trying to assuage customers by offering ID and credit score monitoring, the company came under fire when they tried to insert some fine print in the monitoring agreement that waived a consumer’s right to sue as a result of the stolen data. Then, the company admitted the hackers had gained entry via a security issue that had a patch available—Equifax just hadn’t bothered to implement it.

The latest issue: On September 14, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) posted a warning on their blog cautioning consumers to be mindful of phone scammers posing as Equifax representatives.

“It’s a scam,” FTC employee Lisa Weintraub Schifferle writes. “Equifax will not call you out of the blue.”

Schifferle advises that anyone receiving a call from someone posing as an Equifax employee hang up immediately, even if your caller ID indicates it’s genuine. (Spoof numbers can mimic virtually any business.)

Unfortunately, that’s not all victims of the breach have to worry about. CBS News reports that information mined from the hack could be used in a scam to file tax returns and receive a refund—the person with the compromised identity won’t know it until he or she files their real return and is told it’s already been processed. If this happens, it's best to phone the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline (877-438-4338) for advice on how to proceed.

Experts are also asking consumers to be on guard against “spear-phishing,” the practice of sending emails that appear to be from banks or other businesses that have enough of your personal information to look legitimate. Clicking through might open the door to malware that can steal even more of your data. It’s best to initiate contact with financial institutions yourself and avoid clicking on any links. When it comes to your financial and personal information, a little paranoia can go a long way.

[h/t Lifehacker]

Foster Families Can Shop for Free Clothing at This Western New York Charity

iStock.com/goodmoments
iStock.com/goodmoments

There are nearly 438,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, and many of them come to their foster families needing clothes and shoes. Erin Richeal, Cheryl Flick, and Kara Brody, three foster parents from western New York, have gotten together to start a free clothing bank dedicated to providing foster kids with the wardrobe staples they need, WGRZ reports.

Foster Love Closet is a free clothing bank located in the Town Line Lutheran Church in Alden, New York, and it's now collecting donations. Open two days a week, the foster kid charity allows foster families to pick up a week's worth of kids' clothing at a time. Items like shirts and pants, as well as extra necessities like coats, socks, shoes, underwear, and pajamas, are set up in the charity's 2000-square-foot space. All socks and underwear are brand new, and any other items are either new or gently used.

There's something for foster kids of all ages, from infants to older teens. Foster parents with valid placement papers and a photo ID are welcome to pick up clothes for their foster kids four times a year, or whenever a new child moves into their home. Families are encouraged to bring their foster kids along to "shop" for the free clothes.

If you're looking to contribute to the Foster Love Closet's inventory, the center is now accepting clothes free of rips, holes, and stains that are appropriate for the spring and summer months. You can also support them by purchasing something off their Amazon wishlist.

[h/t WGRZ]

FYI: The FDA Has Ceased Its Food Inspections

istock.com/Olivier Le Moal
istock.com/Olivier Le Moal

It may be safe to eat romaine lettuce again, but The Hill is reporting that the FDA is suspending "most food inspections" amid the current partial government shutdown.

As the government shutdown rounds out its third week, the effects have begun to take a toll on both minor and major scales. Government workers are missing paychecks, affordable housing contracts are expiring, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not able to cover all of its usual duties. According to the official FDA website, around 55 percent of their $5.4 billion budget comes directly from federal funding, with the other 45 percent coming from industry user fees.

With fewer resources for protecting the nation's food supply, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has had to delegate most workers to investigate "high risk facilities," such as those that produce seafood or cheese.

In 2018, nearly a dozen different products were cited for salmonella contamination, including raw turkey, pre-cut melon, and even Honey Smacks cereal. The FDA also warned of a possible salmonella outbreak from eggs last May.

Though the FDA will continue to inspect foreign manufacturers and products, the agency generally conducts roughly 160 food inspections per week. They look for any possible contamination due to various unclean circumstances, and that is only the beginning of a much longer process if foods actually need to be recalled. The FDA also investigates cases sent to them by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); after an illness or outbreak has been reported, the FDA works to trace where the contaminant could have come from before recalling and pulling problematic products from the shelves. All of this takes a lot of work, as we recently reported.

[h/t The Hill]

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