Consumer Alert: How thieves can hit your digital wallet and how to protect yourself

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Do you use a digital wallet like Venmo, PayPal, or Apple Pay? Then you’re vulnerable to an ingenious scam. It’s an old scam with a new twist that could fool the most tech-savvy among us.

Venmo users have been reporting it, but thieves could use any of the digital wallets to fool you.

Here’s how the old scam worked. Thieves did it in two simple steps.

  • Step one: Hack into your email.
  • Step two: Send an email to all your contacts that said something like, "I’m traveling and someone stole my wallet. Can you wire me $200?"

That scam doesn’t work well because it’s not specific enough, and by now we’re all familiar with it. But with a digital wallet, that crook can craft a scheme specifically for you.

  • Step one: They go to your Venmo account where they can see all your public transactions.
  • Step two: They pick someone you’ve already sent money to before, preferably a lot of money, like your teenage kid.
  • Step three: They create an account with a very similar name. It may be just a letter or number is off. And they use the stolen picture of your kid.

Now that’s specific and could easily fool you. Well, we can protect ourselves with three easy steps.

  • Step one: Set all your transactions to private. For directions, click here.
  • Step two: Verify the request. Contact anyone asking for money before you send it.
  • Step three: Turn on additional security features like two-step authentication or require a pin.

The chip shortage strikes again! GM is cutting production

Lastly, I have to tell you about this announcement GM made Thursday. It is dramatically cutting production in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. And GM manufactures a lot of vehicles in North America like the Arcadia, the Equinox, the Blazer, Cadillacs, and a slew of pick-up trucks. They’ll soon be in an even shorter supply. It’s all because of the ongoing shortage of semiconductor chips. Basically, our cars are computers on wheels. Everything from your backup camera to airbag deployment is possible because of that little chip. Most of GM’s plants will be down for two weeks, and that will have a painful ripple effect, higher prices.

But as I’ve told you before, that chip shortage is hitting the whole auto industry, not just GM. So now may not be the best time to buy a car. Auto experts tell me you get the best bang for your buck six days of the year, December 26th through New Year’s Eve.

Here’s Deanna’s Do List for getting the biggest bang for your buck:

  • Set a car-buying budget and don’t budge. While this may seem to contradict Lares’s last tip, it’s not. You can compromise. But don’t let a shiny new car and a charming salesperson talk you into buying a car you can’t afford. Stick to your budget.
  • Be able to walk away. Don’t get emotionally attached.
  • Find affordable financing before you hit the lot. Because lenders consider used car financing riskier than new car financing, rates may be higher. Shop around.
  • Be prepared. Know your credit score. Also, research the Kelley Blue Book price for your car before you hit the lot.
  • Get a vehicle history report. Carfax and AutoCheck are the best-known companies that sell history reports. New Yorkers can also get free vehicle information at
  • You can also get limited information at several free sites including the National Insurance Crime Bureau,,, CARFAX and AUTOCHECK.
  • Make sure the person selling the car owns the title to the car. Click here to do that.
  • Ask a trusted mechanic to inspect the car before you buy. First, after you test drive the car, have it checked by a mechanic. I called 10 auto repair shops in the Rochester area this spring. All had good reputations with the BBB, and the price for a pre-purchase inspection runs from $20 to $130. And if that helps avoid buying a money pit, that’s a few bucks well spent.
    • Goodyear, A+ BBB rating, $62.50
    • Chili Automotive, A+ BBB rating, $125.00
    • Independence Car Care Center, A+ BBB rating, $59/99
    • Lewis General, A+ BBB rating, $19.95
    • Vesa’s Automotive, A+ BBB rating, $55
    • Rytek Automotive, A BBB rating, $80.00
    • Schoen Auto, A+ BBB rating, $78 or $130
    • Tony’s, A+ BBB rating, Manager didn’t quote a price