Be Alert to Scams.
Emergencies bring out the best in some, and the worst in others! It may be harder for us all to ignore scam emails and calls, and especially those robocalls since we’re at home all the time. The Federal Trade Commission is already aware of scams out there falsely indicating there is a medicine that will protect you from, or cure you of, COVID 19. These may request money to put you “first on the list” to receive the medicine, or even promise to ship it now. DO NOT BELIEVE any such request. Here are a few tips that may be helpful in general:
Types of Phone and E-mail Scams—A Sampling.
New versions of these sorts of scams appear all the time, but they all have a common thread: Send or pay money!
Not all scams are alike, however.
Some scams are threatening and designed to frighten you, some ask for help, maybe for a relative or friend, or to support a slightly but fraudulent variation of a cause you already support, some are related to payments for things on Craig’s list or other sale sites, some make you think you’ve won a prize or the lottery or inherited funds from someone you never met, or that you are getting a real deal for some reason or other that sounds plausible.
The scammers can be very convincing.
“This is the IRS” Scams
“You are about to be arrested” Scams
“Your brother has been kidnapped” Scams
“I have pictures of you” Scams
“Hi, Grandma” Scams
“I’m stranded and need money” Scams
“Your computer needs fixing” Scams
“You can pay by sending a gift card” Scams
“Can I send you a cashier’s check for more $ than we’ve agreed, and you send me change?” Scams
“You’ve been left money” Scams
“You’ve won!” Scams
Fraud and Scams that Take Advantage of Personal Connections—A Sampling.
New versions of these sorts of fraud and scams appear all the time. These are sometimes harder to detect because there is usually some sort of personal relationship that has been built up over time. But, again they all have a common thread: Send or pay money!
The reason these sorts of frauds or scams are harder to figure out is that the relationship between the parties means they know each other and the scammer knows what will resonate with the person being asked for money.
Sometimes the basis of the request may even be true, but the person asking may still be taking undue or inappropriate advantage of a person’s generosity. Multiple or particularly large requests for money can be a signal that the request is not legitimate or appropriate.
“My family back home needs help”
“I need help to pay my bills”
“This is a great investment; we will make a lot of money.”
“I can do this job for you cheaper than anyone else.”
Things You Can Do to Help Avoid Being Scammed
Make it a rule to never send money in response to calls or emails.
Be wary of responding to letters requesting money even from people you think you know, or to requests in person from acquaintances or associates without further checking.
Even if you think the request is legitimate, check with a trusted family member or friend first, BEFORE you respond. BE ESPECIALLY WARY of any request to send money or gift cards that asks you not to tell anyone (e.g., Please don’t tell my Dad).
Report any suspicious requests for money to the Police.
Hang up on Robo Calls—If you answer a call and there is a delay before you hear someone, it’s usually a Robo Call. Hang up if you don’t hear a voice immediately.
Check caller ID, if you have it. If you don’t recognize the name or number, let the call go to voice mail.
Do not respond to mail or emails asking for money from people you don’t know or whose email or name you don’t recognize.
Don’t hire help, handymen, or contractors whose background you haven’t checked. (Remember Marin Villages has a list of member recommended vendors that might be helpful!)
Be VERY careful in giving out personal information online.
Know with whom you are dealing.
Create a separate email account to use when you order things online. This will help unclutter the email account you want to use with friends and family.
Invest in antivirus and anti-malware software and keep it updated. This will help keep “bad actors” from infecting your computer with viruses and help reduce the amount of spam you get.
Other Sources of Information on Frauds and Scams