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Carnival scams: see the most common ones, how to avoid them and what to do if you are a victim


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Carnival officially starts on the 18th, but blocks have been occupying the streets of São Paulo since the beginning of January and there are already complaints and reports of thefts. From the vending machine scam when buying a beer to false promotions for party offers, revelers end up having to balance fun with attention.

THE Sheet heard experts who explained the most common scams in the period, how to avoid them and what to do if you are a victim.

credit card fraud

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Brazilian gangs are a global reference in circumventing the security of card machines. One of them was the first in the world to be able to block approximation payments, to induce the operation with insertion of the chip, which allows the application of the scam known as ghost purchase.

This scheme simulates errors, from a virus, in card machines to duplicate transactions and, without the shopkeeper or customer noticing, make a second charge to the customer, of the same amount, but directed to the scammer’s account.

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To infect billing devices, cybercriminals contact point-of-sale owners by telephone or even telegrams, posing as employees of vending machines or card brands.

In this case, the consumer has nothing to do, in addition to being suspicious of the repeated errors during the payment.

According to Professor of Consumer Law at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie Bruno Boris, consumers harmed by this fraud can file a lawsuit against the trader or the machine company, whose security has been breached.

But, according to a survey by Febraban (Brazilian Federation of Banks) in 2020, the most common scam at Carnival is the exchange of credit cards.

The scammer assumes the role of a street vendor or app driver, for example. It takes advantage of the customer’s distraction to observe the password or induce him to enter the code in the purchase amount field.

Already aware of the password, the fake merchant exchanges the card and returns another very similar one. Without realizing it, the reveler gives everything to the embezzler.

Procon-SP (São Paulo Consumer Protection and Defense Foundation) gives the following guidelines to avoid these scams:

  • Do not use a machine with a broken display or that does not allow data to be read
  • Do not lose sight of the card. The owner must handle it during insertion and removal and also when approaching
  • Check the values ​​expressed in the voucher and if the returned card is the correct one
  • Be alert if your password numbers appear on the machine screen after typing
  • Before entering the password, check that the account value was entered correctly
  • Never lend the card
  • Memorize the password and do not keep it with the card
  • Have a list of telephone numbers in hand to report theft or loss of the card

cell phone thefts

Cell phone thefts and robberies should also worry revelers. With the smartphone in hand, criminals can access bank accounts, social networks, carry out financial transactions and steal data, causing harm to the victim that goes beyond replacing the device.

In the worst cases, the thief even uses bank apps to apply for loans.

Increasing device security is essential to mitigate this damage. Adding two-factor verification to apps where possible is a first step. See other tips:

  • Always use protection to unlock your cell phone, either by PIN (numeric sequence), written password, biometrics or facial recognition
  • Activate your SIM card password. If the function is activated, it will be necessary to enter this password every time the user turns on the phone or inserts the SIM card in another device, which makes it difficult to bypass the two-factor verification.
  • Store applications with sensitive information in secure folders or hide them. Consider deleting them before leaving the house.
  • Do not save passwords on your cell phone or keep prints of bank transactions and documents
  • Reduce the individual and daily limit of your financial transactions (mainly Pix) and follow the security recommendations of your financial institution
  • Block the line with the operator

  • Learn how to remotely lock and wipe your device. On iPhones, this can be done from iCloud; on Android devices, Google services can be used
  • Choose someone you trust to have access to the remote cell phone lock system to support you in case of robbery or theft
  • Register an incident report and block the device with the IMEI code, available on the device box and in the device search applications

Anyone who notices undue withdrawals or entries to the account or invoice can dispute the transaction with the financial institution. If there is no solution, you can file a complaint with Procon-SP (Foundation for Consumer Protection and Defense of São Paulo).

According to Bruno Boris, there is no consensus in court whether the financial institution should reimburse the victim of theft or robbery in case of embezzlement from the bank account. “The person needs to prove that there was a security breach.”

fake promotions

Several brands promote special offers at Carnival. Scammers take advantage of the situation to impersonate companies and steal money and data.

Nubank, for example, informed its customers in early January that scammers were posing as the digital bank to advertise a false promotion with the name Pix de Carnaval.

“The message asks users to enter a link, answer a questionnaire and forward this link to their contacts on WhatsApp in exchange for a Pix of up to R$ 150. However, everything is nothing more than a fraud”, says the statement. available on the Nubank blog.

It is a classic case of phishing (fish, fish), the practice of “fishing” the internet user so that he clicks on a malicious link, to steal data and even induce him to make payments.

To avoid this fraud, it is important not to trust messages of dubious origin and always verify the sender’s authenticity.

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