Scammed? What To Know And Do About 2015 Scams
I received many requests to write this month’s article on SCAMS. There is good chance if you got through the 2014 holidays that you or a friend were exposed to a scam…and did not know it.
Crooks have smartened up and now use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. The bad guys often combine sophisticated technology with age-old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information. New twists to old schemes are added to pressure people, especially seniors, to make important decisions on the spot. The one thing that is a certainty is that they follow the headlines — and the money.
We must all remain diligent and stay a step ahead with the latest info and practical tips from the nation’s consumer protection agency. We should all browse the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) scam alerts by topic or by most recent scams to keep up to date on current scams.
The Desert Sun discussed many scams but failed to address these unlucky 13 scams in their year ending article.
- Computer scams where fraudsters trick consumers into believing their computers are riddled with malware and then charge to fix the problems.
- The Grandparents scam occurs when con artists pretend to be a family member, often a grandchild that is in urgent need of money to cover medical care in a foreign country or fix a legal problem such as money for bail.
- The health related scams, especially the medical alert device schemes, that occur when scammers attempt to collect personal information or convince seniors to pay for a device or service they never ordered.
- Lottery scams are used to gather info and or money. This includes the Jamaican lottery scam, in which fraudsters lead victims to believe they have won a lottery but must pay an upfront fee or taxes before their winnings can be released. They get the victim to go to their bank to take out money “temporarily” as they will be receiving a windfall from the lottery winnings.
- Social security scams take place when benefits are re-routed from the accounts of rightful recipients to fraudulently created bank and debit card accounts. All these scams try to gather your personal information to either steal your identity or your money………..or both.
- The IRS scam is when the caller claims to be a preferred enforcement officer acting on behalf of the IRS, or they say they are with the Palm Springs Police or Riverside County Sheriff. Sometimes the caller ID may even confirm the police or Sheriff…I know because I received such a call. Fortunately I am friends with the Sheriff of Riverside County who ran my name through their computer to advise me of the scam attempt. You should note that the IRS does not call you, they send letters. If this happens to you, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 or forward their emails to phishing@IRS.gov.
- If you get a call claiming to be a City Official or with the Sheriff’s Department they may allege you missed Jury Duty and you ask for a money order to correct this. They may ask you to call back with the information on the back of the suggested money order that you are requested to purchase, or ask you for a prepaid debit card.
- Sometimes the caller may even threaten you with Arrest (as was the case with my caller), Deportation or the Suspension of your Business License or Driver’s License.
- Callers may claim you won the lottery and that they need your bank account information to wire you money.
- Other SCAMS in the greater Palm Springs neighborhood involve Rental Properties. Be wary of listings on Craigslist for rentals by owner or vacation rentals as there have been many such scams. A red flag should be raised when no phone number or email address is listed. In addition, prospective renters may be asked to send money for a home rental during a major city event, such as Coachella. It is highly possible that the home may not even exist, may already be rented to someone else, or may not even be for rent. Do your due diligence!
- When looking for a rental or looking to rent your home, look carefully at the spelling and language in the advertisement as they are often prepared by people from outside of the area. You may want to check Google Maps to be sure the address exists. Also, be wary if the renter asks for money up front or asks for $40 to run a background check.
- Sometimes the scammer moves into the home and then complains that everything is not working, ultimately refusing to pay any rent. The scammer then extorts money from the homeowner for the poorly maintained home and asks for $25-$50,000 to vacate in lieu of filing a lawsuit. Others say they want to just rent for 1 month and then will not leave.
- Loan Scams were reported by KMIR last year. This occurs when the victim receives a call saying it is understood that the victim is looking for a loan, and ‘voila’ they have been pre-approved for an installment loan. The caller may ask for your bank routing information to send the money to you. Then, in order to secure the loan, the borrower may be asked to purchase items such as gift cards in an amount that will be reimbursed when the loan takes place. Fraud alert!
IF you are a victim, contact the fraud alert hotline toll free 855 303 9470 or visit website www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline.
Report FRAUD and potential ID thefts by contacting:
- Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Hotline 877 IDTheft/ www.consumer.gov/idtheft
- Social Security hotline 800 269 0271/www.ssa.gov/oig
- Equifax: 800 525 6285/ www.equifax.com
- Experian: 888 397 3742/ www.experian.com
- Transunion: 800 680 7289/ www.transunion.com
Keep the above numbers in a safe place just in case! Remember the bottom line is that everything is not always as it seems so be careful and check before giving out any private information.
If you have ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow, Attorney at Law at his NEW number 760-565-0533.
1) TOP LAWYER rating by Palm Springs Life every year. 2) Perfect AVVO 10.0 Peer Review Rating by fellow attorneys 3) Preeminent Rating by Martindale Hubbell legal directory. 4) Selected for Best Attorneys of America (Limited to Top 100 Attorneys in each state.