Scam Artists: How to avoid falling prey
Another day, another 17 spam phone calls. Technology gives us the ability to easily connect us to our loved ones, but it also gives scammers the ability to defraud us from the comfort of their own homes. So much of our personal information is already spinning around the world wide web, it is essential that we protect what we can. Here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission and Bank of America to help keep you safe from scams over the phone, email, etc. because if you send information or money to a scammer, there is little–or nothing–that your bank can do to help.
- Do not trust caller ID: Scammers can easily pose as government officials, law enforcement, and bank employees. These are people that we tend to trust and to think we can share confidential information with so they are ideal people for scammers to impersonate. If someone calls you and is asking for personal information or money while posing as a person such as this, validate the person’s affiliation by calling them back through an official phone number. It is possible–and easy–for scammers to fake caller ID information.
- Use payment methods with built-in fraud protection: Wiring money through services like Western Union is risk because it is almost impossible to get your money back in case of fraud. Credit cards, on the other hand, have significant fraud protection built in. Other forms of payment that are red flags for fraud are reloadable cards and gift cards. Government offices and honest companies will not ask you to use these methods.
- Hang up on robocalls: If you answer your phone and hear a recorded message, hang up immediately. Do not press any numbers or say anything–this could lead to even more calls.
- Do not get pressured into making rash decisions: Scammers often pressure you to act quickly–to send them money quickly, for example. They may also threaten you with action from law enforcement. If you are being pressured, do not panic. Take some time to consider the situation, perhaps consult with someone you trust, and importantly–from the first point–validate the legitimacy of the person and their alleged affiliation by calling back an official number for that organization.
- Avoid phishing scams in emails: Phishing emails (and text messages) look like they are coming from a company you know or trust like a bank, social networking site, etc. However, they are often a scam to get you to click on a link or open an attachment to steal your information. If you think you’ve fallen victim to a phishing email and a scammer has your information, go to IdentityTheft.gov.
- Other types of scams: Other common scams include being told to purchase gift cards and provide codes as a form of payment, being asked to cash a check for a stranger, or being instructed to make a cash deposit or pay fees for a sweepstakes. If it sounds too good to be true, or if it feels off, trust your instincts.
Unfortunately, scammers target the elderly and other vulnerable populations to defraud. Technology has only made it easier for them to find victims and harder for us to detect scammers. If your loved one has fallen prey to a scam or you are worried that they might, and you are looking for ways to protect them and their finances, please make an appointment with us for a free consultation to speak with a California elder law attorney.
All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about our firm, our services and the experience of our attorneys. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, and may be subject to change without notice.