Northampton Press

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Another View

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 by The Press in Opinion

Protect yourself from scammers

Scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated with their ways to steal money or personal information.

An article, “Grandparent Scam Suspect Arrested, Others Sought,” on the WFMZ TV-69 website reported on a Bethlehem man awaiting extradition to Virginia after allegedly participating in a multi-state scam.

The article states Johnnie Vincente allegedly was in possession of an envelope containing $10,000 in currency from a senior citizen in Minnesota when he was stopped attempting to pick up a FedEx package using a fake ID.

The grandparent scam targets senior citizens by contacting them via telephone and telling them their grandchild needs a large amount of money because he or she is hurt or in jail.

According to the article, two senior citizens — one in Virginia, the other in Minnesota —were scammed out of a total of $32,500.

Anyone can be targeted by a scammer.

According to Scamwatch.com, even individuals as young as 18 have reported being scammed.

There are many different types of scams, and not all of them are easy to spot until it is too late.

The Internet and advances in mobile communication devices have opened up new ways scammers target individuals to steal their information and money.

The most reported scams, according to Scamwatch.com, include phishing (an email asking an individual to verify personal information), identity theft, false billing, unexpected prize and lottery, buying and selling, reclaim and remote access schemes, upfront payment and advanced fee frauds, threats to life, arrest and other online shopping cons.

With the recent Equifax cyber-security breach in which approximately 145.5 million consumers’ personal data was accessed, it is more important than ever to learn how to protect yourself from scammers.

• Never give out personal information either online, over the telephone or to someone at your front door. No legitimate company will ask you for your personal information.

• If you receive a call from an individual you don’t know claiming a relative needs money because he or she is in jail or hurt, call the relative first before giving the caller any money or sending it through Western Union, FedEx or a prepaid card.

• Don’t keep personal information such as passwords or banking information on your mobile device in case it is stolen.

• If you receive an email from an address you don’t recognize, expand the message address to see who sent it. If it is a scam, the email address will likely have misspelled words in it.

• If you receive a call from a person claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, hang up immediately. It is a scam. The IRS will never call if you owe money. The agency will send a letter.

• Keep your operating system and virus protection software on your computer or mobile device up to date.

• If you receive a telephone call saying you have won a contest you don’t remember entering, be suspicious. It could be a hoax.

• Don’t make quick decisions when it comes to giving someone your money or personal information.

• If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

There are several things you can do if you have been scammed.

• Stop sending money through Western Union, FedEx or prepaid cards.

•Contact your local police department to report the scam.

• Educate yourself on the different types of scams to protect yourself in the future.

To learn more about the different scams and how to protect yourself, visit usa.gov/scams-and-frauds or the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org.

Susan Bryant

editorial assistant

Parkland Press

Northwestern Press