One of the issues I have been facing in the last 6 months is the proliferation of Frauds and Scams. I'm not the expert, and I seem to get more than my fair share of scammers trying to get my money. If they are doing this to me, they are doing it to you and who knows how many other people. I just want to introduce this section and give some pointers and tips in an effort to help keep you and your money secure from these thieves.
Medium: Scams can occur through many types of media now. It used to be that on the Internet, it was easier to spot fraud or scams. But the scammers have developed methods by using the telephone as well. I have found about three (3) simple rules to follow, and I also follow a 4th rule.
1. If it's too good to be true, it is.
2. Scammers will typically put pressure on you to make an immediate decision. If you are not allowed time to think (and of course, research) your decision, then walk away. It's better to miss a good opportunity (that probably didn't exist) than to lose your life savings.
3. Scammers, especially on the phone, will attempt to frighten or threaten you. Other times, they don't have the information in front of them and are only waiting for you to give them your credit card or banking information.
4. Some websites will tell you that "Microsoft has detected an error" and to call Microsoft Support to fix the problem. Of course it is not Microsoft (I'll do a small series on that in the next few weeks). Or, some websites will tell you that you do not have the latest version of your browser (I personally use Chrome) or plugins (Adobe Flash Player) and to "Press Here" to download the latest version. Word to the wise. Don't download and install software from any web site you do not know or trust.
5. You receive a phone call in regards to Health care. I've received telephone calls where they tell me they will save me on pain medication. I ask them what kind of pain I'm supposed to be in and they tell me back pain. I asked where they got that information. They then tell me from my insurance company. I told them no dice, where did they get the information. They then said I filled out an on-line form. I told them no dice. Then they said that a family member filled out a form on my behalf. I told them no dice. I then proceeded to ask them where they got the information because it violates the doctor/patient privilege. That's when they hang up.
Examples of the type 1 rule are: emails from Warren Buffet trying to give you $3.5 million for charitable work. Or, somebody in Benin Republic (for some reason, it always seems to be Benin Republic) with promises of a large reward or inheritance. Of course, to qualify, you have to pay from $49 - $1,000 for the release documents and you will get your money. Of course, there is no money, it is a way for scammers to get your money. Another example of this is somebody calling from the "Federal Grant Department" and you have been randomly selected to receive a grant. There are several issues with this. First being, there is no "Grant Department" of the U.S. Government. The scam is they need $250 to release the grant to you. And, they will bilk individuals out of more money if they can get away with it.
Examples of the type 2 rule are: I had a company call from Phoenix, Arizona. They called themselves CPA's or Cost Per Actions. They were offering a deal that if I paid for a website, they would put links on that website and whenever anybody clicked on a link, I would be getting money from the advertiser, up to $15.00 per click. I wasn't comfortable, so they offered the "better deal" if I signed up right away. Fortunately, I had a meeting I had to leave for that minute and told them I would call later. Of course, I did my research and found out what they really were, a bunch of scammers.
Another type of this scam is when somebody calls saying they are from the "Service Department" and that your vehicle is no longer under warranty. This is troubling because after much questioning, they will tell you they are an extended warranty company and are not really calling from any service department. I have talked to these people and they promise the warranty will cover virtually everything except consumables on the car (windshield wipers, tires, etc) and want you to sign up for a monthly plan immediately. When I asked to take a look at the contract and/or paperwork, I was told they will provide that ONLY after I make the initial payment of the extended warranty. I told them that's the way I do business and they said that's the way they do business. If you cannot receive paperwork or any verification beforehand, it is most likely a scam.
An example of Type 3 schemes include, but are not limited to: the popular scams going around is the "IRS" scam, where they call your telephone number and have an automated voice message that states the "IRS needs you to return this call. An arrest warrant has been issued in your name for failing to pay proper taxes." When you call them, they all claim to be IRS agents or Investigators. If you cannot pay (and the number varies) $6,985.00 then they will come arrest you. The reason, according to them, I made a mathematical error in my 2011 - 2016 taxes. When I inquired what the reported income was for 2016, I was told they could not discuss it with me. They also try to scare you saying the phone call is recorded and Department of Homeland Security is on the other line. The reality is they did not have that information. Another example of this is when a person calls and states that you have credit card debt in excess of $10,000.00. This scammer called and I answered my relatives home phone. I then told him that I needed to know who he was calling. Of course, he could not tell me. Then, I asked for specifics. Real details. I asked which bank the money was owed to and the account numbers. The conversation went something like he was trying to tell me, but his "marketing" department had all that information. Really, he didn't have the information at all.
Another example is when a company calls and claims "This is Not a solicitation call", which of course it is. They tell you that they have been monitoring your credit payments and you now qualify for a 0% interest on your credit card. But, they get to a point and ask you to verify your credit card number and cvc number. They sound "official", and tell you that your Visa card number starts with a 4 and to read the rest of the numbers off to them. ALL Visa credit cards start with a four. The best way to get these people off the phone is to ask to speak to a supervisor or to ask them to tell them your name. They will tell you they have an account summary but do not have your name. That's really a ploy as they don't have a summary.