26 Feb

Recently there has been a steady increase in scams being used against our citizens. A scammer will use many different avenues to try to trick you into giving away your hard earned money. They do this by appealing to your emotions.  They are masters at dispensing lies and playing psychological games with you.  The goal is clear; To part you with your money. They are easy to describe, yet sometimes hard to detect.

A confidence trick, confidence game, or con who’s attempt is to intentionally mislead a person or organization, usually with the goal of financial or other gain. The, con man, often works with an accomplice, who tries to encourage the victim by pretending to believe the trickster. There are many different scams that are committed every day.  This week we will describe some of the most popular ones and for the next few weeks I will explain the difference between them and I will also talk about how to avoid them and when to call the police. First let’s list them:

                                                                            COMMON SCAMS

Medicare spoof: A caller claims to be a Medicare representative and asks for bank account information to activate new federal benefits. Often the caller appears to be legitimate because con artists are able to purchase "spoofing cards" to falsify the phone number that appears on the victim's caller ID and make it appear as if they are calling from a federal agency. Always verify a call or letter you receive before giving out information.

Magazine scam: Door-to-door solicitors falsely say they are raising money for local sports teams by selling magazines that will be sent to troops in Iraq.

Grandparents scam: Caller claims to be a lawyer or police officer who states that a grandchild is in trouble, in a hospital or in jail, and asks for money to be wired.

Counterfeit check scam: Consumer receives a real-looking fake check with a letter explaining they have won a lottery or sweepstakes. The person is instructed to deposit the check and wire back a specified amount of money to cover the taxes on the winnings. Often it takes the bank several days to verify that the check is fake. By that time, it is too late to recover money that was wired from the account.

Credit card interest rate scam: Con artist says he can help lower credit interest rate but is actually trying to collect credit account information.

Jury duty scam: Caller claims that the victim missed jury duty. When the victim protests that she never received a jury summons, the caller asks for her Social Security number and birth date so he can "verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant."

Most of these scammers operate out of the country and spend lots of time at internet cafes sending emails and making phone calls in hopes of fooling folks in our community. One that rears its ugly head often is the grandparent scam.  The caller will pretend to be a grandchild and will usually be stuck at the border in Canada without identification and need money to pay for a new passport or they will tell you that they were arrested by police and they need bond money to return home.

 They will Always ask you to wire them money!!!  That will be your number one red flag. There is no reason to wire anyone money unless you can absolutely verify that your family or friend is in trouble.  Always check with other family members no matter how much they tell you to keep it a secret. The secret is the glue that keeps others from revealing the lie!! When anyone calls you claiming to be your grandchild, ask them something that only the family would know. 

 I often say with regards to scammers that they will always initiate the first call or email. Follow a simple rule; if you did not initiate the call, hang up!! If you do not recognize an email sent to you then erase it without opening it!!  These are sound principles that should be followed to keep scammers away from your money.  

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