BEWARE … You May Be a Target
By Glen McKenzie
Sadly, hundreds of crooks are working diligently to steal your hard-earned money. Following are just a few of the common schemes but beware, there are many.
Debt Collection Scams:
Fraudsters are impersonating debt collectors or even law enforcement officers attempting to collect a debt that you do not owe. If someone contacts you, ask for proof of the debt––scammers won’t have it. If you are threatened with arrest for non-payment, it’s a scam.
Watch for any email that pretends to be from your credit union, bank, or large retailers. In a “phishing” scam, these email addresses will link to a fake website that is an “exact copy / mirror image” of the real website, but the web address will be slightly different. The fraudsters are attempting to trick you into entering your personal information so they can steal your identity. Look carefully at the email addresses as there is usually a slight variation from the real website. If they are using a generic greeting (dear jdoe) or a threat (your account will be deactivated today)––Beware. Never provide private information like account numbers, social security numbers, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, etc., to anyone.
Scammers are masterful at appealing to our desire to help the less fortunate. You’ll get a call announcing that you’ve won thousands of dollars in a charity sweepstakes. Claiming to represent a “government official” (like the FTC), you’ll be told as “the winner” to pay thousands of dollars for taxes and insurance to claim your winnings. You should NEVER have to pay money to win a prize and a legitimate organization will never ask for money to be paid over the phone.
Job Offers that are Fraudulent:
People with nefarious intentions pose in classified or online job ads as employers that offer opportunities. Perhaps, it’s working from home. The kicker is that you are required to pay money beforehand to “help secure the job.” They may also request a significant amount of personal information for the “background check.”
Fake Check Scams:
Fake or counterfeit check scams are increasing. They are often found in foreign lottery, check overpayment, internet auction and secret shopper scams. In the check overpayment scam, the scammer replies to a classified or online auction site ad. They pay for the item with a check, but write the check for more than payment amount. Once the check is deposited, the scammer asks the seller to wire back the overpayment. The scam artist’s check bounces and the seller is responsible for the entire amount.
Online romance scams are on the rise. Through the creation of a fake profile, the scammer will profess his/her love for you in a very short period of time. At some point during the “relationship,” they will seek your financial assistance. Maybe they are a highly successful person working in a foreign country and need your help with cash or a check. Or, they are desperate to meet you, but need your money to help them travel to where you reside. If you suspect you might be a victim, block then immediately.
These are only a few of the popular scams out there. Others include government imposter scams, jury duty scams, ransomware scams, overpayment scams, lottery scams, financial scams, and scams targeting seniors.
Beware of anything where you did not initiate the contact and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Glen McKenzie, President/CEO of DATCU Credit Union, may be reached at 866-387-8585.