Hang Up on Con Artists

Published: 3/31/2016

Ever wonder why there are so many cons, scams, and computer phishing incidences? The answer is that it’s very profitable for the criminals because so many people continue to allow themselves to be victimized every year.

It’s pretty simple to reduce the risk of being victimized and eliminate the success of a con or scam and it doesn’t involve any cost. All you have to do is HANG UP!

While there are many honest and credible salespeople, it’s impossible to tell the difference between an honest person and dishonest person if you don’t personally know them or if they have not been recommended to you by a friend.

So, when a person calls;

-          Fishing for information from you about anything – HANG UP!

-          Claiming to be from a financial institution or credit card company – HANG UP!

-          Claiming you’ve won a prize – HANG UP!

-          Claiming to have warrant for your arrest for unpaid fines– HANG UP!

-          Offering a deal on home repair or landscaping – HANG UP!

-          Claiming to be a relative and you don’t recognize the voice – HANG UP!

Never give any personal, financial, or account information to anyone who has called or emailed you -- no matter who they say they are or why they say they need the information. People who have responded to such phone and e-mail requests have had their accounts wiped out.

Your financial institutions, credit card companies, businesses, and companies you have worked with know how to contact you. They still utilize the U.S. Mail or use other modes of communication that you have established with them. They will not send you text messages telling you that your account has been hacked, email you asking for your PIN or account number, or call you asking you questions they should already know the answers to.  

You did not win a foreign lottery! Anytime you are asked to send money in order to collect your winnings in a lottery or sweepstakes, it is a scam. No legitimate lottery or sweepstakes requires advance payment from a winner for any purpose. Legitimate lotteries and sweepstakes do not require you to pay your taxes up front in order to receive your winnings, and they cannot charge money for prizes. If you are asked to pay any money, for any reason, in order to claim a prize, you are dealing with a con artist.

There is no legitimate reason for someone to ask you to wire money or load a rechargeable money card as a way to pay back a debt. Callers claiming to be from a law enforcement agency, a judge or even the IRS warning you that you will be arrested because of unpaid fines, taxes or for not appearing for jury duty – is most likely a scam. Fear is what really makes this scam work, fear of being in trouble, fear of going to jail. But if you get this call, hang up the phone and call the official number of the agency that the scammer claims to represent, and get the real story. Even if it is a real debt, you have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Be leery of any contractor who approaches you unsolicited. They may tell you they just completed a job in your neighborhood, have materials left over from another job, or that they're running a "one-day only" deal-whatever the story, don’t buy it. These con artists usually request payment before they begin any work, and then run off with your money without making or finishing the repairs.  A reputable contractor should have enough business from advertising and referrals to keep them busy without knocking on doors, so reach out to contractors you find through reputable sources. If your home needs repairs, your best bet is to call more than one licensed and bonded home repair company in your area and check their references. You can also check a business out by contacting your local Better Business Bureau.

If you get a call or email from someone claiming to know you and asking for help, check to confirm that it’s legitimate before you send any money. Ask some questions that would be hard for an imposter to answer correctly – the name of the person’s pet, for example, or the date of their mother’s birthday. Resist the pressure to act quickly.  Instead, immediately contact someone else they know – a friend or relative of the person – to verify the information.  

Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail...especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash—once you send it, you can’t get it back.

Con artists are always coming up with new and different ways to try and scam you. Trust your gut instincts and think twice about what you are doing…and hopefully you will decide to just HANG UP!