Tag Archives: Starbucks

An iTunes Scam and Gift Cards Heads Up

Phishing scams are junk e mails that tell you you’ve won something or you need to click on an e mail because your paypal, credit card, or bank account has been frozen. The crooks want you to click through and divulge some personal information and they can then get into your credit card, bank account, or commit identity theft.

A really nasty one started this morning, because I just received it. You need to pass this on: It’s an e mail from the Apple iTunes Store that shows up as a receipt for two purchased movies for $36.98. Just below the receipt it states: If you haven’t authorized this transaction, click below for a full refund. And millions of people will click before thinking.

Stop, count to 10 and look: The e mail comes from store.com and not from Apple. Apple does not send email receipts, and it looks unprofessional, and has spacing errors. That’s four clues right there. All you need to do is go to google and type in the website address it came from. When I typed in “store.com” it forwarded me to mysimon.com – a phony shopping site. Right there you know it’s not from Apple. It’s used by the same scammers to attempt to spoof simons.ca, the Quebec, Canada based department store.

When in doubt – do not click, or you’re in for a world of pain and identity theft if you answer any of the questions in clicking through on it.

Starbucks just released their financial statement, and in 2013 they sold $4 billion in gift cards in North America. I was just stunned when I read that. Want to guess what Starbucks will eventually make on unredeemed cards? The breakage (or non redeemed cards) is around 8% or more. So they’ll end up with around $320 million in profits for NOT selling coffee. If your card is down to a buck or two – just hand it to the person behind you in line – that way you’ll at least make sure they card gets used up.

If you have gift cards you don’t want, there are now a couple of credible sites that buy, sell, or exchange gift cards. One big one is cardpool.com. Large retailers such as Wal Mart or Target will have small discounts to buy and sell – boutique stores with much less volume have a much larger discount. That’s just a supply and demand issue. Right now, a $100 Lowe’s gift cards, as an example, can be bought for $93, or you can sell it to cardpool for $84.

Gift cards lock you into buying at one store – cash is good everywhere. If the chain is big AND financially stable, that’s not a problem. But the smaller the store, the more you’re taking a chance that they’ll still be in business when you or the recipient want to redeem the gift card! Be careful.

A Lot of New Stories This Week

Starbucks, as if they didn’t have enough problems in a recession where people aren’t interested in spending four bucks for a coffee, had a big hiccup on the May long weekend. More than one million customers who paid with credit or debit card were double charged because of a computer error. The company fixed it internally, but it’s another reason to always, always check your statements!

An old 1980’s scam is back that you should make sure you know about. It’s that you’ve won the Jamaican lottery. But you need to first pay for the transfer funds. Sorry, you didn’t win – honest, but this fraud has really taken off again. In fact, gangs in Jamaica are killing each other in fights to get the sucker and reload lists, it’s that hot.

Bankrupt General Motors is cleaning house some more. They just sold their Saab division, which apparently never ever made a dime of net profit for them. OK, and they didn’t actually sell Saab – they gave it away to a small Swedish luxury car maker.

President Obama is proposing a new consumer legislation agency in the U.S. If it passes, and that’s not a given, one big goal of the agency is that disclosure on credit cards and other products be in plain language. The goal is to have any disclosure written at a grade 11 level, one page or less, where someone can read it AND understand it in less than four minutes. Now that’s a great goal.

Have you noticed that the big no-service banks are now in the product sales business in a bigger way? In a mailer this month from the Scotiabank, I received a flyer to buy a Garmin 255 GPS. Why is the bank selling GPS systems? Their price is $300, while Amazon sells them for under $200!

Last week’s American Express rewards catalogue had something I would really really like to buy with my points: A new 2009 Elise SC sports car from Lotus. It’s 14.2 million points. You might guess I’m a little short. But I’d like to know who runs up over $14 million of charges on their American Express!

There was a survey a couple of weeks ago that should be great news: When the economy recovers: 25% of people said that they will return to their regular spending habits, but 61% said that they will stay with their reduced spending and budgeting.

Would you like to have lunch with Warren Buffet in New York? Sure, who wouldn’t! It’s a fundraiser auction for the Glide Foundation and you can bid on E-bay until this weekend. But before you log on: Last year, the price was $2.1 million! It’s for you and seven of your friends. So if you do bid: I would love to be your friend!

Poor retailer Eddie Bauer. They went bankrupt for the second time in four years last week. This time it involves about $420 million in debt. Gees, you’d think they would learn the first time that heavy borrowing doesn’t work. But then, it’s another retailer that we can learn from, because, over the long term, debt doesn’t work for us, either.