Avoid Being Scammed

By Joseph M. Wilson, Jr., Attorney at Law

In this world there are, unfortunately, a percentage of people who choose to make a living by stealing from other people. Scam artists seem to be everywhere and they continually search for new schemes that target your hard-earned money.

The North Carolina Department of Justice tracks these schemes and investigates complaints filed by consumers in the hopes they will be able to recover your money and stop the guilty parties from continuing to scam others. Scams range from health scams that target the elderly, to “work from home” offers that target the recently unemployed, to those that target military personnel. And while we all like to think we would not fall for a scam, it can happen to anyone.

Here are some common ways scammers try to “hook” you and “reel you in”:

  1. Phishing is an email scam that tries to get you to provide your personal information in response to an email they send to you. In many cases, the email appears to come from a trusted source and uses their logo and disclaimer. We have seen these appear to come from Amazon.com, Facebook and Bank of America. No legitimate company will send you an email asking you to confirm your personal data in this fashion. Delete the email.
  2. Bogus phone callers may try to get you to confirm personal information by calling and telling you there is a problem with your account. Again, legitimate companies will not ask for personal information in this fashion. If you believe the call may be legitimate, ask for the caller’s name and phone extension, then call the number you KNOW is valid from your statement and ask for that person.
  3. Keep your computer virus software up to date and download the latest versions and security patches for the browser(s) you use. This will help keep your computer safe.
  4. Buy a cross-cut shredder and shred ALL documents or offers you receive and anything that may have personal information on it. Alternately, many police departments have free shred events several times a year where you can take these items to be safely destroyed.

If you have been scammed and are the victim of fraud, contact your local police department to report it and notify the NC Attorney General’s office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM to file a complaint.

Other resources:
http://www.ncdoj.gov/consumer.aspx
http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety
http://www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com
www.staysafeonline.org

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