The old adage if it sounds too good to be true then more than like it is. Again, we are receiving complaints daily of unscrupulous individuals that are preying on our citizens with fake lotteries, phishing schemes and just plain old con games.
Scam: Instead of sending you a phishing email, scammers send you a cell phone text message, supposedly from your bank, or secure debit cards asking you to visit a website whose address looks genuine. It isn’t, and once keyed in, takes you to a bogus site that asks for personal details so the bank can “unlock” or “verify” your account. Wham, your hard earned savings are gone.
Solution: As with phishing emails, never follow a link, even one you have to manually key in, that you don’t know for sure. And never provide confidential information unless you know the site is secure — with an “s” in the “https” part of the address line and/or a padlock icon in the message area of your browser.
Scam: An unexpected or fake prize scam will tell you that you have won a prize or a competition. These scams work by taking your money and then not sending the prize or sending a prize that is not what you expected. The scammers make their money by making you pay fees or call their premium rate phone numbers (usually starting with 190) to claim your ‘prize’. These premium rate calls can be very expensive and the scammers will try to keep you on the line for a long time or ask you to call a different premium rate number. You could be notified that you have won a prize in any number of ways—by mail, telephone, internet or in person. You will lose any money that you pay and you may not receive a prize. Even if you do receive a prize, it might not be what you expected.
Solution: If you are told that you’ve won a prize when you haven’t entered any competitions do not respond. Do not write back, do not call the telephone number listed and do not send any money, credit card details or other personal details to the scammers. Responding only indicates that you’re interested and you could end up with many more fake offers in the future. If it is anything other than a registered competition or one you remember entering—say no!
Scam: Grandparent Scam: In these types of scams, the perpetrator often calls a grandparent or other relative pretending to be his/her grandchild/niece/nephew, etc. The caller sounds upset and typically states there are only a few moments to talk. Their story generally follows a familiar line: they were traveling in another country with a friend, and after a car accident or legal infraction, they are in jail and need bail money wired to a Western Union account as soon as possible for their quick release.
Solution: When in doubt, and BEFORE YOU SEND ANY MONEY, contact the State
Department’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) at 1-888-407-4747. They will help you verify whether the situation is legitimate or a scam!
Should you fall victim to any of these scams I encourage you to contact your Sheriff’s Office and file a complaint. We will assist you in getting down to the bottom of things. Identity theft and fraud is often complicated and can take quite some time to get a favorable solution.
You can also report the incident to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) – a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). IC3 was established to receive internet related criminal complaints and to research, develop, and refer complaints to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement if appropriate.
I encourage each of you to check your credit report at least annually at annualcreditreport.com. You have the ability to check all three of the major credit reporting agencies and your credit report is free. I suggest checking your credit report with one of the three around January and then again about four months check the second and then about four months later check the third. This allows you to keep watch on your credit report all throughout the year for free. However, there are many paid services that will monitor your credit activity, just make sure they are reputable.
Well this edition was quite lengthy, but writing about scams is a never ending job. There are so many out there and each day a new one comes along while an old one just gets fine tuned a little. Staying on top of your credit and keeping savvy about how scammers, phishers and the like are trying to scam you does take a little time to explain.
As always if you need to contact us you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 828-837-2589 or hit us up on Facebook.
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