How to Avoid Falling Victim to Illegal Scams and Schemes

According the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there are certain scams which all of us need to be aware of, and which more consumers are, thankfully, becoming intelligently informed about.

In our era of high-technology, we have to watch out that we don’t fall prey to those who seek to exploit the internet (or even, with telemarketing schemes, the telephone) to conduct illegal business.

The intent is, in many cases, to rob consumers of sensitive and private information, or of funds.

But There Are So Many Aspects to Daily Living….E-mail, Text Messaging, Mobile Devices, VOIP, and, Of Course, the Telephone. Are There GENERIC Warnings Which We Need To Heed?

Yes. In general, those who design and implement scams and other fraudulent campaigns have a few things in common. Fortunately, you’ll cut down on the possibility of becoming the victim of a malicious long-distance (or even local) schemer by paying close attention to the following warning signals:

1. When You Have Questions about The Company or the Caller’s Background, You’re Assured That There is No Need to Investigate. – In many scams, you are cautioned by the alleged thief that you “don’t have to worry” about their credibility. In fact, any concerns you express are pooh-poohed and you are told that you are being “overly suspicious “or wasting your time if you insist on checking out the veracity of the caller or company. In truth, it is wise to check out the reputation of ANY entity with whom you wish to do business. If the person with whom you are speaking or e-mailing is on the up-and-up, they will NOT discourage your researching their background;

2. According to the Caller or Contact Person, You’ve just Won a Terrific Prize… one which anyone would be thrilled to win (whether it’s a vacation or a fur coat or jewelry or any number of valuable winnings). Of course, the first question that should flit through your mind is why someone would want to gift you with such a lavish bundle. The answer might be that they stand to gain something—and, if you fall victim to their trap, you will be on the losing end.

3. You Must Provide Something First. The chances are that the caller or salesperson will ask YOU for something before you are “awarded”. The actual scenario may well be the following one: you must pay whatever it is that they ask you for, such as the price of the so-called postage to get the information or package to you. Or, you may be asked for the number of your bank account or your credit card number, in order to receive the gift. In some instances, you may be asked to let the caller arrange to pick up a check from you, by overnight courier.

4. You Are Pressured to Make a Decision on the Spot. There is “no time to lose” for “the chance of a lifetime”. What is going on here is that the caller feels that they have dangled a carrot in front of you, which you are mulling over, and, that, if they let you go, you will, with time, realize how fraudulent their illegal scheme is.

If any of the above danger signals are evident, be extremely wary about proceeding with any transaction with the party in question. Do not, for a minute, think that you are being “ungrateful” or even rude to ask the caller or salesperson for time to think over an offer. In fact, it’s just good business to do so.

What Are Some Other Scams To Watch Out For?

Stay away from Ponzi Schemes, Pyramid Schemes, prize notifications where you are told that you must pay for the taxes on a prize before it is awarded (this is in direct violation of a federal regulation), and from sales pitches where the caller does not wish to give you their name, company affiliation mailing address, and phone number—or gives you phony information.

Finally, do NOT throw away ATM receipts, credit card statements, bank statements or actual credit cards if these items are not shredded so as to render them unusable.

For the most part, whether you’re dealing with a telemarketing scheme, a fraudulent tactic aimed at Senior Citizens, or a Pyramid scheme, it pays to question the validity of any company or individual who seeks to do business with you, and, especially, if they try to extract information from you, without having gone through the usual, and proper channels (like bonafide ads, either online or in the media; the White or Yellow Pages or via a storefront.)

In closing, remember to stay safe by screeching to a halt if you see a red-flag. If something sounds too “good” to be true, and if strangers who contact you seem to want a great deal of personal information or are otherwise invasive, don’t take the bait, and don’t take the communication any further. Hang up, or disconnect the connection.

If you have information on a company or an entity which you believe may have been engaging in a scam, remember that it’s always a good idea to let law enforcement know. If you wish to contact your local FBI office, go here: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field

In this way, other innocent and unsuspecting consumers will not be inconvenienced by such nefarious tactics.

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