Like it or not, the world is e-connected like never before and not all of those connections are good. Enter, the phone and internet scammers. Despite the large volume of them, there are ways to protect yourself from would-be thieves.
“There’s a whole list of scams that we’re aware of,” said Manchester Police Department Chief Investigator Jackie Matheny.
The common elements of scams are they are urgent, intimidating and believable. Scammers know how to seem real, even if in hindsight their demands are clearly suspicious.
Matheny warns people should never give out personal data to someone who claims to be a debt collector. A legitimate collection agency will have that information from a creditor.
Be suspicious of someone who calls you out of the blue. You should have previously received legally-required written notice first.
Matheny also warns to not make payments to anyone you’re not sure about.
“Insist on verifying the debt claim,” he said. “(Scammers) may threaten to have you arrested. But this is something that legitimate debt collectors should not do.”
Be leery of demands for immediate payment, especially if they ask to put money on a prepaid debit card or a Green Dot card.
“That’s pretty common around here. We’ve seen scams where they call a local business pretending to be the manager,” Matheny said.
The supposed manager then instructs employees to load money from a safe onto a prepaid card and give the caller the number to pay an emergency bill.
“They think it’s legit and coming from a boss,” he said. “And the company is out $2,000-3,000.”
Check with family
Matheny warned often older people are common targets of scammers.
The grandparent scam is a call from someone claiming to be a grandchild that needs money.
Scammer seem to know things only family would, using the Barnum effect (supplying vague information that seems specific) to supplement what they have researched on social media.
“They’ll know just enough. Let them tell you your grandchild’s name. If you give them a name, they can go with it,” he said.
“Also,” he added, “Call and verify with other family members and don’t just give out any money.”
Matheny noted elder caregivers should be mindful that their loved one might be the target of a scammer. He advised to take note of strange contacts.
“Talk with them. Make sure they’re aware of what’s out there. Check to see who they’re talking to and keep, and eye on them. This stuff does happen.”
Often when the elderly are scammed, it’s for a sizable amount.
It’s (probably) not the IRS
Another common scam is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scam.
A caller claiming to be with the IRS will demand immediate payment.
Matheny advised people not share personal information over the phone with someone claiming to be a government official.
The IRS doesn’t email or text asking for personal information. The agency will not ask for payment via wire transfer or prepaid card.
Don’t fall victim
Some scam calls are immediately suspicious, others are elaborate and harder to spot.
Caller ID information can be rigged to display legitimate numbers.
Numbers can be spoofed. A caller from anywhere in the world can call and pose as a legitimate telemarketer. When you answer, they know yours is a real number and spoof it to make more calls with a local number.
Overall, Matheny warns not give out or confirm personal information over the phone. If they’re legitimate, they’ll have your information.
“Don’t be bullied. A scammer will issue threats and demands,” Matheny said.
If you haven’t registered for a drawing or a lottery, there’s a good chance you didn’t win one.
Be cautious of attractive strangers looking for love on social media. These elaborate scams involve befriending and falling in love on Facebook, only for the person to need large sums of money to get to the States.
“We’ve heard reports of people losing tens of thousands of dollars sending money to these people,” he said.