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Watch Out for These Scams
Scams have been around forever. But it seems that scam artists are always finding new ways to prey on the unwary. AARP recently listed some new approaches -– and a few tried-and-true ones -- that target people of all ages.
Tech scams. This scam is huge: Microsoft says that more than 3 million people were victimized to the tune of a total of $1.5 billion by some version of this scam in 2015. Usually it starts with a cold call from someone who says they are with Microsoft or Windows tech support, and your computer has been infected with viruses. All your data is in danger, unless you go immediately to a website they name and follow the directions there. However, the site actually installs malware that lets the scammers steal your data – including user names and passwords – for themselves.
Silent call. Sometimes when there is no one on the other end of an incoming call, there is a logical explanation. But sometimes it is a robo call that adds you to a data base and exposes you to phone-based scams. Don’t answer calls from numbers you do not recognize.
IRS scams. In this case, you get a call from someone who claims to be from the IRS. The caller says either that you owe back taxes and unless you wire money or otherwise pay them immediately, you will be subject to legal action or, alternatively, that you are due a refund but the IRS needs to verify some personal information. These contacts also sometimes are made by email. However, the IRS only makes an original contact with a taxpayer via U.S. mail – never by email or telephone. These calls or emails are just ways to get you to give out your personal or financial information.
Chip credit cards. You probably know that credit card companies are issuing new cards with updated chip technology. However, your issuer will send the card to you on its own. If you get an email that looks like it is coming from a card issuer and is asking to verify personal or financial information so that it can send you a new chip card, it is a scam.
Faith-based dating sites. In the old days, a con artist might woo a wealthy widow or widower in an attempt to steal from the unsuspecting “love interest.” This old scam is being updated, though, especially through the use of faith-based dating sites. Unscrupulous people sign up and look for “marks” on these sites, because honest people using the sites often cannot believe that someone who purports to be religious could actually be a crook.
In general, don’t give out personal or financial information over the phone or by email unless you are absolutely, positively certain that the person you are talking to is legitimate. And always remember that if it seems too good to be true, most likely it is.