March 5, 2018
We need to be on guard against fraud 365 days a year, but National Consumer Protection Week is a good time for a few important reminders.
Con artists are getting very good at impersonating people in order to steal your money or personal information. They call and pretend to be a government official, a tech support or utility representative, or a debt collector.
They claim that something terrible is going to happen, such as you'll be arrested for not paying your taxes or your electricity will be turned off for non-payment. But they can fix this made-up problem, if you pay them right away.
Some phone scammers ask for credit card numbers, some want gift cards, and others tell you to wire the money. Don't do any of those things, no matter how scary the caller sounds.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, victims lose substantially more money to imposter scams than any other type of fraud. Nearly one in five people who reported an imposter scam to the FTC lost money.
Here's the rule: Never provide account numbers or personal information to an unknown caller. Never! Hang up, check it out and figure out what to do.
By the way, there's a reason why so many scammers tell their victims to wire them money. It's because wire transfers are instant and the money can be picked up anywhere in the world. These transactions are virtually impossible to track and they can't be reversed once the money has been picked up.
Remember: The government will never ask you to wire money, and it's illegal for telemarketers to ask you to pay by wire.