Palm Beach County residents are getting calls that seem to be from their own cell number. Received one of these? A reporter and his son did.
A recorded message that purports to be from AT&T says an account has been compromised and asks people to punch in the last four digits of their social security number.
It’s just confusing and disconcerting enough to throw some folks off balance. They may wonder if only a phone company could call them from their own number, so there might be something to it.
Don’t respond. Hang up. It’s a scam to gather information that could be used to plunder accounts or steal your identity.
“These calls are not from AT&T,” said company spokeswoman Kelly Starling. “If any company calls you and asks for your personal information, that is a red flag. One of our tips on our new Cyber Aware website is never give such information to someone who calls you. Call the company at the number found on your bill. You can read more helpful tips for all consumers at www.att.com/cyberaware.”
The call appears to be from your own phone number through a technological trick called “spoofing.” This is how scammers appear to be calling from the IRS or from across town in other ploys. That is why, unfortunately, you can’t take the caller ID at face value 100 percent of the time.
Your own number on the caller ID is a relatively new twist, though reports started popping up in other states in recent months. It’s also a sure sign of trouble. Real phone companies don’t do this.
Palm Beach County’s average gas price leads Florida at $2.93 per gallon, and a rise of another 50 cents this year is a real possibility, says motorist group AAA, citing partners at the Oil Price Information Service.
“OPIS believes oil prices could reach as high as $90 per barrel before the end of the year,” AAA said in a statement early Monday. “While that high is not guaranteed, gas prices would be 50 cents higher, if it happened.”
Florida gas prices remain at their highest levels in three years, and a full tank costs an average of $42, an increase of $8 from this time last year, AAA said. The per-gallon price is still below a high of $4.08 in 2008, but prices above $3 are already appearing at some local stations and could become the norm as the year progresses.
Heading into the unofficial start of the summer driving season Memorial Day weekend, the average family is expected to pay a total of $200 more for gasoline this summer than last year, and $250 more than in the summer of 2016, the group said. At the same time, U.S. producers are increasing their output, and that’s taking the edge off for now. State and local average gas prices stayed within a penny of where they were a week ago.
Still, gas inventories are dropping as international tensions increase, fueled in part by President Donald Trump’s exit from the Iran nuclear deal, which is expected to result in sanctions that effectively limit the supply of Iranian oil on world markets.
In West Palm Beach, prices on Sunday ranged from $2.70 per gallon at five stations to $3.24 at Texaco on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, according to price-tracker GasBuddy.
In Jupiter, the cheapest gas was $2.75 at Mobil on Indiantown Road and Alt. A1A and Circle K on W. Indiantown Road and Orange Road. Four stations tied for the highest at $3.09.
In Wellington, the lowest price was $2.79 at Shell on US 441 near Southern Boulevard and the highest was $3.09 at Shell on Southshore Boulevard, according to GasBuddy.
Uber Eats is trying to take a bigger bite out of the food delivery market in Jupiter and beyond.
Wednesday marked the formal launch of the Uber Eats app and website in Stuart and Port St. Lucie, with expanded service in Jupiter. For a $4.99 fee, the rideshare service’s drivers deliver food from participating restaurants in a service area including Port St. Lucie, Hutchinson Island, Stuart, Palm City, Stuart Beach, Jensen Beach and Jupiter.
More than 40 participating restaurants are said to include Bagel Boyz, Kyle G’s Prime Seafood, Nitrogen Bar, Grill and Sushi, Taj Mahal, The Taste of India, Vic & Angelo’s and others, plus chain restaurants including Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, Burger Fi, Duffy’s, Freshii, IHOP and Mulligan’s Beach House Bar & Grill.
Juan Pablo Restrepo, general manager for Uber Eats in Florida, declared his operation “excited to work with the restaurant community in St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties,” creating “new economic opportunities for delivery-partners.”
Florida gas prices shot up 10 cents in a week for the costliest fill-up since November 2014, with Palm Beach County’s average leading the state at $2.92 per gallon.
The pump prices reflect a rise in the cost of oil after President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and markets anticipated sanctions will limit the amount of Iranian oil in the global supply, analysts said.
That makes the average tank cost about $7 more than it did a year ago in Florida, heading into what is expected to be the busiest Memorial Day driving season in 12 years, according to motorist group AAA. More than 41 million drivers are projected to hit the road during the holiday weekend that kicks off the unofficial start of summer, up 5 percent over last year.
A strong economy has many motorists planning to travel, but drivers increasingly may find budgets pinched for “other expenses like shopping and dining out,” said AAA/The Auto Club Group spokesman Mark Jenkins.
Gas costs nearly 50 cents more per gallon in Florida than it did a year ago.
That’s still well below a high of $4.08 in 2008, but represents a considerable increase over the past 12 months.
Prices can vary more than 40 cents per gallon within the same city, so drivers not blessed with unlimited budgets may find it worthwhile to pay attention.
In West Palm Beach, prices Sunday ranged from $2.72 at Cumberland Farms on Cresthaven Boulevard to $3.19 at Texaco on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, according to price-tracker GasBuddy.
In Delray Beach, the spread ran from $2.77 at Murphy USA on Military Trail to $3.24 at Mobil on S. Federal Highway.
In Palm Beach Gardens, prices ranged from $2.75 at Sunoco on PGA Boulevard to $3.19 at Shell on the same road.
In Royal Palm Beach, costs varied from $2.70 at Marathon on Okeechobee Boulevard to $3.09 at Exxon and Chevron stations in the village, according to GasBuddy.
Florida drivers who own 1.3 million vehicles with a recalled Takata airbag that was never fixed are taking the biggest risks in the nation, new statistics suggest.
Florida leads all U.S. states and territories with three deaths and 83 injuries related to the airbags, and injuries in the state have jumped almost 400 percent since the end of 2014.
Yet only 45 percent of recalled airbags in Florida have been replaced, according to information provided Friday by the state’s U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. He is the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate commerce committee, which oversees automakers.
On Wednesday, the Senate commerce committee is scheduled to examine the nomination of Heidi R. King to be administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which oversees recalls among other duties.
As a deputy administrator with the agency, King warned earlier this month of low compliance rates with a “do not drive” warning affecting 2006 Ford Rangers and Mazda B-Series trucks.
“I cannot stress strongly enough the urgency of this recall – these airbags are dangerous,” King said. “Every vehicle must be accounted for now.”
Limited supplies of replacement parts have delayed some fixes, while in other cases drivers who bought used cars, for example, might never have been notified. In many instances, a letter or postcard can easily get lost in a pile of junk mail.
“These numbers show that we still have a huge problem with getting these dangerous airbags replaced and off our highways,” Nelson said. “Consumers should heed the recall warnings and get their vehicle repaired as soon as possible. Failure to do so could result in death or life altering injuries.”
Florida’s high humidity seems to create conditions that make the airbags more likely to malfunction over time and spew dangerous metal fragments when deployed, researchers say. Drivers of seven Honda and Acura models made between 2001 and 2003 face a particularly high risk.
Unsure if your car is affected? Call your manufacturer or dealer or check here:
The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, in a statement of considerable length, says a South Florida robocaller’s arguments don’t wash and he should pay every penny of a record $120 million fine.
As The Palm Beach Post reported, the FCC found Adrian Abramovich of Miami “is the perpetrator of one of the largest — and most dangerous — illegal robocalling campaigns that the Commission has ever investigated, making nearly 100 million robocalls in just a three-month period.”
The calls disrupted emergency lines, tying up a medical paging company among others, and misled consumers to think they were getting deals from companies like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Marriott and Hilton, officials said. Instead, consumers were directed to a discount-travel call center not affiliated with those firms, according to investigators.
Officials say making prerecorded telemarketing phone calls to people without prior consent is prohibited, and so is making them to emergency lines and deliberately falsifying caller ID to disguise identity with the intent to harm or defraud consumers.
Here’s the full statement from FCC chairman Ajit Pai issued Thursday:
“After the FCC proposed fining Adrian Abramovich $120 million last year for allegedly engaging in a massive spoofed robocall scheme, we gave him the chance to contest the allegations. Mr. Abramovich did in fact respond to our Notice of Apparent Liability. That response is more notable for what it doesn’t say than what it does.
Specifically, Mr. Abramovich doesn’t dispute that he was responsible for placing 96,758,223 robocalls during a three-month period in 2016.
He doesn’t dispute that all these robocalls were made without the recipient’s consent.
And he doesn’t dispute that all these robocalls were accompanied by inaccurate caller ID information, making it appear as though they were coming from the same community as the party being called, a practice known as ‘neighbor spoofing.’
What Mr. Abramovich does have to say in his defense isn’t very convincing. For example, he asserts that he had ‘no intent . . . to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value.’ But if so, why did he include fraudulent caller ID information with each and every one of his 96 million robocalls? Friendly visitors don’t wear disguises to mask who they are. And why did the recorded messages indicate that the calls came from well-known travel or hospitality companies such as Marriott, Expedia, Hilton, and TripAdvisor, even though they were attempting to sell vacation packages at destinations unrelated to those named companies?
Moreover, Mr. Abramovich didn’t just have the intent to defraud or cause harm. He actually caused harm. Just ask his victims—a number of whom are elderly—who were duped into purchasing travel deals under false pretenses. Or ask Spōk, a Virginia-based medical paging service whose emergency communications services were disrupted by a flood of robocalls attributed to Mr. Abramovich’s companies.
Mr. Abramovich also claims that the consumers who received these robocalls were only harmed if the calls lasted for at least five minutes. So he says he should only be penalized for calls that long or longer. With all due respect, this is a ridiculous argument. I haven’t met a single American who likes getting these kinds of robocalls, regardless of length. And in any case, our rules against caller-ID spoofing certainly don’t permit spoofed robocalls so long as they string you along for 4:59 or less.
Tough enforcement is a key part of the FCC’s robust strategy for combatting illegal robocalls, and this Forfeiture Order represents a big step forward in our enforcement efforts. This is the largest illegal robocalling scheme that the FCC has investigated to date, and we are appropriately imposing a $120 million forfeiture in response. This is the largest forfeiture in the history of the FCC. Our decision sends a loud and clear message: this FCC is an active cop on the beat and will throw the book at anyone who violates our spoofing and robocall rules and harms consumers.
We would not have arrived at this result without the hard work of the Enforcement Bureau’s dedicated staff. They spent countless hours combing through the evidence and pulling investigatory threads together. I want to thank Vilma Anderson, Tamara Baxter, Jonathan Garvin, Lisa Gelb, Rosemary Harold, Richard Hindman, Lisa Landers, Latashia Middleton, Nakasha Ramsey, Stacy Ruffin Smith, Michael Scurato, Daniel Stepanicich, Kristi Thompson, Kimbarly Taylor, Kim Thorne, Melanie Tiano, Bridgette Washington, and Lisa Williford. You will continue to have our support as you seek to bring to justice the scofflaws and scammers who for too long have been bombarding Americans with unlawful robocalls.”
Attempts to reach Abramovich or an attorney were not immediately successful.
Update: President Trump tweeted Monday, “I will be announcing my decision on the Iran Deal tomorrow from the White House at 2:00 p.m.”
Original post: Retail gas prices sit in a restless and jittery lull as analysts say higher costs at the pump likely await if President Donald Trump pulls out of the Iran nuclear deal by May 12.
Already oil prices have reached a 2018 high, and Friday contracts marked the priciest since November 2014. Generally that means higher costs at the gas station are in the pipeline.
Retail prices have held steady for a week but “all bets are off right now, pending the President’s decision” on the Iranian nuclear deal, said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for motorist organization AAA/The Auto Club Group.
Palm Beach County’s average price fell a penny to $2.85 per gallon as it remained the state’s costliest market, according to AAA. Florida’s average fell one cent to $2.73 on Sunday, but that’s up 35 cents compared to this time last year.
Pulling the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal by a May 12 renewal deadline could mean reimposed sanctions against Iran and effectively take 1 million barrels of Iranian oil per day off the world market, resulting in reduced global oil supply and higher fuel prices, AAA said.
In Jupiter, often the priciest town in the priciest market in Florida for gasoline, costs at the pump ranged from $2.67 at a Mobil on Indiantown Rd. and Alt. A1A to $2.99 at Mobil and Shell stations elsewhere on Indiantown Road, according to price-tracker GasBuddy on Sunday.
In West Palm Beach, the low-priced leader was Cumberland Farms, $2.62 on Cresthaven Blvd. near Military Trail, according to GasBuddy.
Pump prices held steady in Florida and Palm Beach County to close out the priciest April since 2014.
The county’s average remained unchanged since last week at $2.86, but is still the highest in the state according to motorist group AAA.
Statewide the average stayed at $2.74, but that’s 10 cents more than a month ago, and 32 cents more than last year.
“Crude prices are about 33 percent more expensive than they were this time last year,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “Expensive oil means expensive gasoline.”
Sometimes prices vary widely within the same city, so keep an eye peeled.
In Palm Beach Gardens, for example, prices ranged from $2.72 at a Sunoco on PGA Boulevard and Prosperity Farms Road to $3.09 at another Sunoco and two Shell stations elsewhere in the same city, according to GasBuddy.
The owner of Tax King Inc. in West Palm Beach has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for charges related to fraudulent returns and stolen identities.
Corry E. Pearson, 28, of Riviera Beach was sentenced by U.S. District Court judge Beth Bloom to 124 months after prosecutors said he and accomplices filed at least 770 fraudulent returns for more than $5 million in refunds.
Pearson plans to appeal, said his attorney Ana Davide.
“He intends to vindicate himself,” she said.
Wednesday’s sentencing comes after years of fraud and ID theft that started in 2011, according to Benjamin G. Greenberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Michael J. DePalma, acting special agent in charge for the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation unit.
In some cases, defendants stole identities and collected returns for themselves and tried to disguise control of the money, federal officials said. A number of returns involved false representations about gambling losses and education credits, according to authorities.
A restitution hearing has been set for July 13.
Co-defendant Stephane Cindy Anor, also known as Stephanie Anor, 28, of West Palm Beach, previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was sentenced to 36 months in prison. She worked as a tax preparer at Tax King.
When it comes to the costliest claims not caused by hurricanes, Florida’s second largest home insurer acknowledged “unintended consequences” behind a change approved by the board of state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Wednesday.
The revision to the language in Citizens policies comes after the company launched its “managed repair” program last year to give consumers incentives to use company-approved contractors for certain repairs. Citizens maintains these claims are often inflated in a way that drives up costs for everybody
The program, criticized by contractors outside the company’s program as well as attorneys who sue insurers, aims to limit payment on non-weather-related water losses to $10,000 if homeowners are not using company-approved contractors.* Such claims often involve, say, a broken pipe or a leaking water heater.
It also established a $3,000 limit on water mitigation services, meaning initial clean-up, unless Citizens approves more. But company officials concluded that, whoops, that opened the door to the kind of lawsuits it says are driving up rates.
“The flexible provision has had the unintended consequence of increasing the potential for litigation,” a Citizens statement said. “Under the new language, additional water mitigation exceeding the $3,000 limit would be completed by Citizens managed repair contractors at no cost to the policyholder.”
Meeting Wednesday, Citizens officials portrayed the change as a fair way to address the problem.
“We believe this is the most customer-centric approach to address the abuse and anticipated rate increases tied to non-weather water claim abuse,” said Steve Bitar, Citizens chief of consumer and agent services. “Again, our overriding goal is to ensure that every Citizens customer has choices and access to full coverage.”
The new policy language is set to take effect Aug. 1.
Contractors not in the company’s managed-repair program have argued it artificially restricts consumer choices and can lead to inadequate or unfair insurance payments. Sometimes damage from real-life claims does not conveniently stop at a company-imposed limit, they said.
“This is a huge problem and is more of the continued effort to have Citizens and the other carriers control the whole restoration process and not allow the free market and the policyholder to make choices,” David J DeBlander, president of Pro Clean Restoration and Cleaning in Pensacola, told The Palm Beach Post last year.
Update: Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters president Jimmy Farach said Wednesday the program still works against consumer interests.
“Citizens (is) taking away their policyholder’s rights to receive full compensation unless they agree to let the Insurance company’s pet contractors do the job,” Farach said in a statement. “This will take away any ability for checks and balances. Instead of having a contractor that will perform a full and fair repair, Citizens will hire contractors that will do the cheapest repairs possible, without regard to the quality of the repair. If the contractors hired by Citizens don’t make the repairs cheaply, Citizens won’t continue to hire them. This is really bad for Citizens policyholders.”
* Anearlier version of the blog has been revised to reflect when the $10,000 limit would take effect. A Citizens spokesman notes while the managed repair program and $3,000 flexible cap has been in place since last year, “the $10,000 cap on non-weather water claims has yet to kick in.” The company expects that provision to go into effect Aug. 1, 2018 if state regulators approve.