5 ways to protect yourself against scams

As the new year approaches, we’re hearing about some new twists to some old scams I’d like to share with you.

We’ve taken reports before about someone calling and pretending to be an IRS agent. We’ve recently been made aware of a man who was knocking on doors claiming to be an IRS person with fake ID and counterfeit documents in hand.

A round of telephone scams recently targeted busy professionals in our area with the old “you missed jury duty” line. The would-be victims were told all would be forgiven if they bought a gift card and read the card number to the caller over the phone.

The scammers always seem to come up with new ways to prey on those they call. But the best ways to protect yourself from such schemes never change.

  1. Never buy a pre-paid credit card or gift card and read that number over the phone.
  2. Never trust caller ID information. Scammers can “mask” their numbers to appear as if they’re calling from legitimate government agencies and businesses.
  3. Never share account numbers or other personal or financial information.
  4. Never agree to pay for traffic tickets and other criminal fines, or handle outstanding arrest warrants over the phone.
  5. Never agree to any offer for which you have to pay a “registration” or “shipping/processing fee” to get a prize or a gift.

If you have a phone – mobile or landline – you’re a potential target. Fraud isn't limited to race, ethnic background, gender, age, education or income. Please share this important information with your older friends and family members who might be targeted because the caller assumes they might live alone, have a nest egg or might be more polite toward strangers.