Through email, phone, internet, social media, and even your front door, people are inundated with scams. There are a wide variety of scams out there, whether offers for free money through your email or an offer for a cheap product or service at your door “because they have a deal for you”, scammers are always looking for new ways to get quick money.
Scammers can easily “spoof” numbers to look legitimate. They can use the local police departments number if they are threatening you have a warrant to pay, they can use a number similar to a utility company to claim you have an outstanding balance to pay or your service will be discontinued, and they can appear to be a local number to increase the chance of you answering the phone. It is best to never answer the phone or open an email from a person or company you do not know. If you answer the phone, you can always hang up. If you do open the email, do NOT click on any links. This link can download spyware onto your computer or bring you to a fake site to have you give personal or financial information.
Similar to identify thieves, scammers use fear to get their targets to send money or financial information. They may claim your grandchild is in jail and needs money to be released. They may claim you need to pay a debt immediately or you will be arrested. Scammers will also claim there is a “limited amount of time” or the payment needs to be done “immediately”. They may also ask for payment using prepaid credit cards. These should all be seen as red flags. Take your time and investigate if you are concerned the claims may be legitimate.
It is difficult to investigate scams because of the number of scams in circulation and the scammers are often located in other countries. Scammers violate “Do Not Call” registries. The best way to protect yourself is to not give them access. Don’t answer the phone, don’t respond to the email, and don’t open your door if you can’t verify their identity. It is also difficult to get any money back from the scammer.
For more information about scams and protecting yourself from becoming a victim, visit Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information website at consumer.ftc.gov.
If you or someone you know is a victim of a scam (money was exchanged), contact your local law enforcement agency to make a report.