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No Scammers Allowed!


Scams Happening Every Day!

By

Ruth Ann Angus


Seniors are some of the most vulnerable people inflicted by scammers every day in this country. Scammers are busy guys, always on the lookout for someone who is not up on the latest efforts to cheat you and me out of our money. Recently I heard of a scam that came over the Internet to a person’s email. It appeared to be from Amazon and looked very legitimate. Unfortunately, that person chose to answer the email and got caught up in the train of successive links that eventually led to losing thousands of dollars. It is important for all of us to be wary of so much these days that it is difficult to know what to do when an email like this is received.


Scams were part of the topic at a recent Estero Bay Alliance for Care meeting where I was looking for advice on a resource that anyone could call regarding suspicious Internet and email messages. It appeared to me that none of us knew exactly how to advise someone seeking help, although suggestions included locally calling 211, or looking up the local district of attorney’s website. While 211 might be a good suggestion, in this area the DA’s site did not specifically address scams, but it did have information on consumer fraud.


Since then, the following was posted on Facebook by the social services, humanitarian organization Los Osos Cares with information from AARP that has a helpline for anyone to get guidance prior to responding to an Internet or email message that appears amiss. However, there are many types of scams other than Internet and email. I decided to research this and entered the word SCAMS into my Google search line and found a government site that covers all types of scams, describing what they are and how to avoid them. They also have a “real person” one can talk to with questions. The site is www.usa.gov/scams.


This selection is just a smattering of all the types of scams going on these days. I encourage you to read to the end of this post and to look up the USA government website BEFORE RESPONDING TO ANY POST OR CALL THAT SEEMS SUSPICIOUS TO YOU!


Grandmothers! Your grandson or granddaughter or grand niece or nephew is not being held captive in Mexico or any foreign country needing your money! Hang up on this call!


Posted by Los Osos Cares on Facebook, April 25, 2022

SENIORS! Have you been scammed via phone messages/calls? Report them! AARP has a map of reported scams and a way to report them.

Would you like to speak to a fraud specialist? AARP’s Fraud Watch Network Helpline is a free resource for getting guidance you can trust, free of judgment.

Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline 1-877-908-3360 M–F 8 a.m. – 8 p. m. ET

Would you like to speak to a fraud specialist? AARP’s Fraud Watch Network Helpline is a free resource for getting guidance you can trust, free of judgment.

Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline 1-877-908-3360 M–F 8 a.m. – 8 p. m. ET

Telephone Scams

Telephone scammers try to steal your money or personal information. Scams may come through phone calls from real people, robocalls, or text messages. Callers often make false promises, such as opportunities to buy products, invest your money, or receive free product trials. They may also offer you money through free grants and lotteries. Some scammers may call with threats of jail or lawsuits if you don’t pay them.

Remember these tips to avoid being a victim of a telephone scam:

Do

Don’t

  • Don’t give in to pressure to take immediate action.

  • Don’t say anything if a caller starts the call asking, “Can you hear me?” This is a common tactic for scammers to record you saying “yes.” Scammers record your “yes” response and use it as proof that you agreed to a purchase or credit card charge.

  • Don’t provide your credit card number, bank account information, or other personal information to a caller.

  • Don’t send money if a caller tells you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.


Banking Scams

Banking scams involve attempts to access your bank account. Use this information to recognize, report, and protect yourself from them.

The most common banking scams include:

· Overpayment scams - Someone sends you a check, instructs you to deposit it in your bank account, and wire part of the money back to them. But the check was fake, so you’ll have to pay your bank the amount of the check, plus you’ll lose any money you wired.

· Unsolicited check fraud - A scammer sends you a check for no reason. If you cash it, you may be authorizing the purchase of items or signing up for a loan you didn’t ask for.

· Automatic withdrawals - A scam company sets up automatic withdrawals from your bank account to qualify for a free trial or to collect a prize.

Phishing - You receive an email message that asks you to verify your bank account or debit card number.

Remember these tips to avoid a banking scam:

Do

  • Be suspicious if you are told to wire a portion of funds from a check you received back to a company.

  • Be wary of lotteries or free trials that ask for your bank account number.

  • Verify the authenticity of a cashier’s check with the bank that it is drawn on before depositing it.

  • When verifying a check or the issuer, use contact information on a bank’s website.

Don’t

  • Don’t trust the appearance of checks or money orders. Scammers can make them look legitimate and official.

  • Don’t deposit checks or money orders from strangers or companies you don’t have a relationship with.

  • Don’t wire money to people or companies you don’t know.

  • Don’t give your bank account number to someone who calls you, even for verification purposes.

  • Don’t click on links in an email to verify your bank account.

  • Don’t accept a check that includes an overpayment.



Government Grant Scams

Government grant scammers try to get your money by guaranteeing you a grant for costs like college or home repairs. They ask for your checking account information. With it, they say they will "deposit the grant money into your account" or withdraw a “one-time processing fee.”

In reality, government grants are rarely awarded to individuals. They usually go to state and local governments, universities, and other organizations. The money is awarded to help pay for research and projects that will benefit the public.

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Remember these tips to avoid being a victim of a grant scam:

Do

  • Be wary of advertisements and calls about free government grants. These are usually scams.

  • Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. This may reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive. You can register:

  • Online at donotcall.gov

  • By calling 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone number you wish to register

Don’t

  • Don’t give your bank account information to anyone you don’t know.

  • Don’t pay any money for a government grant. You can get information about government grants for free at public libraries and online at Grants.gov. Government agencies don’t charge processing fees for grants they’ve awarded.

  • Don’t believe callers who claim they’re from an official-sounding government agency with news about a grant. Check out the name of the agency online or in the phone book—it may be fake.

  • Don’t assume a phone call is originating from the area code displayed on your caller ID. Some scam artists use technology to disguise their location and make it appear as if they’re calling from Washington, DC.


Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams

Prize scammers try to get your money or personal information through fake lotteries, sweepstakes, or other contests. Many claim that you’ve won a prize but must pay a fee to collect it. Others require you to provide personal information to enter a “contest.” These scams may reach you by postal mail, email, phone call, robocall, or text message.

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Remember these tips to avoid being a victim of a lottery or sweepstakes scam:

Do

  • Ask yourself if you entered a particular contest. If you didn’t enter it, the prize notice is likely a fake.

  • Some scammers use the names of organizations that run real sweepstakes. Research the company's contact information. Contact them to verify if the prize is legitimate.

  • Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. You may register online or by calling 1-888-382-1222. If you still receive telemarketing calls after registering, there’s a good chance that the calls are scams.

  • Report spam text messages to your mobile carrier, then delete them.

  • Hang up on suspicious calls.

Don’t

  • Don’t pay a fee, taxes, or shipping charges to receive a prize.

  • Don’t wire money to, or deposit a check from, any organization claiming to run a sweepstakes or lottery.

  • Don’t provide your credit card number or bank account information to receive a prize.

  • Don’t believe someone just because they say they’re from the government or an official-sounding organization.

  • Don’t reply to, or click on any links in, a spam text message.

  • Don’t give in to pressure to take immediate action.

  • Don’t believe anyone claiming to be from a foreign lottery or sweepstakes. It’s illegal to enter foreign contests like these.


Charity Scams

· Some scammers set up fake organizations to take advantage of the public’s generosity. They especially take advantage of tragedies and disasters.

Follow these tips to detect common charity scam tactics:

Do

Don’t

  • Don’t give in to high pressure tactics such as urging you to donate immediately.

  • Don’t assume that you can get a tax deduction for donating to an organization. Use the IRS’s database of 501(c)3 organizations to find out if it has this status.

  • Don’t send cash. Pay with a check or credit card.



Ticket Scams

· Ticket selling scams happen when a scammer uses tickets as bait to steal your money. The scammer usually sells fake tickets, or you pay for a ticket, but never receive it. They are common when tickets for popular concerts, plays, and sporting events sell out.

Learn what you can do to avoid becoming a victim:

Do

  • Buy tickets at the venue box office.

  • Buy tickets from authorized brokers and third party sellers, with verified contact information.

  • Look for red flags in the ticket offer. If the offer has imperfect English or unusual phrases, the offer could be a scam.

  • Verify that the seller has a real physical addresses and phone numbers. Scammers often post fake addresses, PO Box, or no address on their websites.

  • Check the actual web address of the resale ticket seller. Some scammers create phony websites that look like real ticket sellers' websites.

  • Search online for negative reviews about the seller. Use the seller’s name, email address, and phone number, along with the words “fraud,” “scams,” and “fake tickets”.

  • Verify the details on the ticket. Check the date and the time printed on the tickets. Make sure the section and seat numbers actually exist at the venue.

  • Have the seller meet you in person in a public place for the ticket exchange.

  • Ask the seller for proof that they bought the tickets, if you are buying from an individual.

  • Use a credit card to pay third party sellers. Your credit card offers protections, if you need to dispute a charge.

  • Check for complaints against a ticket seller with your state’s consumer protection agency.

Don’t

  • Don’t wire transfer money to pay for tickets.

  • Don’t trust sellers who want you to pay with a prepaid money card.

  • Don’t meet an individual ticket seller alone or in a low-traffic area.

  • Don’t automatically trust online search results for ticket sellers. Search results can include paid ads, sellers that charge high fees, and scams.


Identity Theft

Identity (ID) theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit fraud.

The identity thief may use your information to apply for credit, file taxes, or get medical services. These acts can damage your credit status, and cost you time and money to restore your good name.

You may not know that you’ve experienced ID theft immediately. You could be affected by ID theft if you receive:

  • Bills for items you didn't buy

  • Debt collection calls for accounts you didn't open

  • Denials for loan applications



There are several common types of identity theft that can affect you:

  • Tax ID theft - Someone uses your Social Security number to falsely file tax returns with the IRS or your state

  • Medical ID theft - Someone steals your Medicare ID or health insurance member number. Thieves use this information to get medical services or send fake bills to your health insurer.

  • Unemployment ID theft - Someone uses your personal information to claim (and receive) unemployment benefits.

Prevent Identity Theft

Keep these tips in mind to protect yourself from identity theft:

  • Secure your Social Security number (SSN). Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Only give out your SSN when necessary.

  • Don't share personal information (birthdate, Social Security number, or bank account number) because someone asks for it.

  • Collect mail every day. Place a hold on your mail when you are away from home for several days.

  • Pay attention to your billing cycles . If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.

  • Use the security features on your mobile phone.

  • Update sharing and firewall settings when you're on a public wi-fi network . Use a virtual private network (VPN) , if you use public wi-fi.

  • Review your credit card and bank account statements. Compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.

  • Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired credit cards. This can prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.

  • Store personal information in a safe place.

  • Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.

  • Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess. Change your passwords if a company that you do business with has a breach of its databases

  • Review your credit reports once a year. Be certain that they don't include accounts that you have not opened. You can order it for free from Annualcreditreport.com.

  • Freeze your credit files with Equifax, Experian, Innovis, TransUnion, and the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange for free. Credit freezes prevent someone from applying for and getting approval for a credit account or utility services in your name.


Online Security and Safety

Scammers may try to use the internet to steal your personal information or trick you into sending These tips can help you keep your computer and personal information safe when going online:

Do

  • Learn how to spot common scams and fraud. Learn the warning signs of internet fraud, phishing, and other online scams.

  • Keep your computer software updated. Download the latest versions of your operating system, web browsers, and apps.

  • Talk to your kids about being safe and responsible online. Find out how you can protect your kids online by teaching them about the risks.

  • Learn the basics of cyber security. Find out what to do during and after cyber attacks and what you can do beforehand to prevent them.

Don’t

  • Don’t use the same passwords for multiple accounts. Try to make your passwords unpredictable and avoid using names, dates, or common words. Never share your passwords with anyone you don’t trust.

  • Don’t give out personal information over unencrypted websites. Only trust encrypted sites that begin with “https” (the “s” means they’re secure). They convert your information into a code that prevents exposure to potential scammers.



Internet Fraud

· Scam artists defraud millions of people each year by using internet services or software. These scams trick victims into sending money or giving out personal information. That’s why it’s important to protect yourself and to report internet fraud if you have been victimized.

These are the most common examples of internet fraud:

· Phishing or spoofing involves the usage of fake emails, text messages, or copycat websites to commit identity theft. Or, it can be used to steal personal information including credit card and bank account numbers, debit card PINs, and account passwords.

· Data breaches occur when sensitive data (personal or financial information) is hacked into, leaked, or inadvertently posted from a secure location. This information may be used to steal identities or commit financial fraud.

· Malware is dangerous software that is designed to disable computers and computer systems.

· Internet auction fraud involves the misrepresentation of products from an internet auction site. Or, it can occur when merchandise isn't delivered to a buyer by a seller online as promised.

· Credit card fraud occurs when scammers fraudulently acquire credit or debit card numbers to obtain money or property.


Take these actions before browsing or shopping for products and services online:

Do

  • Learn how to spot internet fraud by knowing the warning signs of common fraud schemes. These schemes include phishing or spoofing, data breaches, and malware.

  • Know your buyer or seller. If you don't know who you're buying from or selling to online, do some research.

  • Update your anti-virus software and anti-spyware programs. Most types of anti-virus software can be set up to make automatic updates. Spyware protection is any program that protects your personal information online from malware. If your operating system does not offer free spyware protection, you can download it from the internet. Or, you can purchase it at your local computer store. But, be aware of ads on the internet offering downloadable spyware protection which could result in the theft of your information. You should only install programs from a trusted source.

Don’t

  • Don’t give out your personal information to anyone you don’t trust. Never provide it in response to an email, a pop-up, or a website you've linked to from an email or web page.

  • Don’t keep your computer running all the time. Doing so will make it more prone to spyware and other attacks from hackers and identity thieves.

· Report Scams and Fraud

· With so many kinds of scams, it's hard to figure out where to report each type. Gather emails, receipts, and phone numbers so you’re prepared to complete your report.

· Report Scams to Your Local Government

· Start by reporting the scam to your state consumer protection office. If you lost money or other possessions in a scam, report it to your local police too.

· Report Scams to the Federal Government

· You can report scams to the federal government. Your report may keep others from experiencing a scam. Government agencies use reports of scams to track scam patterns. They may even take legal action against a company or industry based on the reports. However, agencies don’t follow up after you report, and can't recover lost money.

· Do not use the contact information included in scam messages. Use verified contact information in USA.gov's federal agency directory to report other government imposters.

Report Most Common Scams

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the main agency that collects scam reports. Report the scam to the FTC online, or by phone at 1-877-382-4357 (9:00 AM - 8:00 PM, ET). The FTC accepts complaints about most scams, including these popular ones:

  • Phone calls

  • Emails

  • Computer support scams

  • Imposter scams

  • Fake checks

  • Demands for you to send money (check, wire transfers, gift cards)

  • Student loan or scholarship scams

  • Prize, grants, and sweepstakes offers

The FTC also collects reports of identity theft. Report identity theft online at IdentityTheft.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338 (9:00 AM - 8:00 PM, ET).

Report Online and International Scams

Report fake websites, emails, malware, and other internet scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Some online scams start outside the United States. If you have been affected by an international scam, report it through econsumer.gov. Your report helps international consumer protection offices spot trends and prevent scams.

Report Social Security or IRS Imposter Scams

Scammers often pretend to work for the Social Security Administration (SSA) or Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Common signs include:

  • Robocalls

  • Threats of arrest or lawsuits

  • Demands for payments

  • Suspension of your social security number

  • Cancellation of your social security benefits

Learn about Social Security-related scams. Report these scams using Social Security's online reporting form.

Report IRS imposters to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). To report by phone, call TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484.




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