How To Avoid Scams

With a tough economy, scam artists are working hard- and succeeding- at scamming innocent, yet gullible, Americans.

I met a darling elderly couple who lost $30,000 to a scam. The couple received a phone call from a stranger saying he had a package for them. He tried to stop by and drop it off but no one was home. He could drop it off, plus a trunk full of cash, if they helped him pay the customs fee. He called repeatedly, knew information about their home and they paid him. Again and again. In addition to customs fees, he had a shipping fee which turned into a holding fee, etc. I mean, it will all pay off when they get their trunk full of cash, right?

Wrong. It was a scammer who bilked the couple out of $30,000 total over a year period. The kicker is the wife, who was making most of the payments, was at the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, a disease that affects the mental capacity and memory of a senior. The scammer knew details about their home (i.e. there was a RV in the driveway) by looking at satellite images of Google Earth. The rest they just prayed on their vulnerabilities.

Scams like this do not have to happen. You can ward off scammers by being smart and skeptical. Here are some tips to save yourself.

If it seems too good to be true, it is.

You won a lottery you never entered? You can get a trunk full of cash for doing nothing? If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Do not kid yourself into thinking that this could be your one chance.

Scams like this work because people want it to be true. So they will fall for everything. This is precisely why scams are so rampant in a bad economy. People need financial help and when saddled with such much bad financial news, good news (who couldn’t use a briefcase of cash?) is what people want to hear.

In this world, you can never get something for nothing. No one just gives out cash. So don’t do it.

Stranger Danger

It seems harsh, but strangers are not your friend, especially on the internet. The digital age has given scammers a mask to hide behind. This veil of anonymity allows them to scam people all over the world. Don’t make friends with people on the internet. This can be tricky for people who use online dating sites. But be wary. If something seems off, it probably is. If your romantic interest ever asks for money, never send it. Even if he or she needs Visa money. Recent dating site scammers have been using photos of military men to lure in women. And it is working.

Do not give personal information (address, phone number, passwords, etc.) to anyone, especially over the internet or phone. Never send money to anyone. If something seems off, it probably is.

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