Charities And Avoiding Scams
This week we continue looking at scams, which victims seem to frequently fall victim to in our area.
Remember to donate only to established charities. Avoid pop-up charities which suddenly appear on the internet after a disaster, either locally or nationally. To check a charity’s trustworthiness you may go to; give.org. This site is operated by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and validates charities.
Don’t fall for pressure tactics. Never react quickly or impulsively to offers or requests for personal information. Sometimes the scammer will rely on this type of tactic to get you to give in and give them the information they are looking for. Always be cautious when given a short time to respond. This is the criminal’s way of trying to keep you from checking and learning that they are trying to scam you.
Be very vigilant of “imposter” scams in which a scammer pretends to be someone close to you, or a person you’re unlikely to question. The Federal Trade Commission reported a large increase in complaints about imposter scams last year. Scammers pretended to be family members, friends, loved ones, government officials/agencies, or companies. They are always trying to get information or money from you.
These types of scams make their way through the Mother Lode each year. They come in several different forms. The most frequent one is a caller claiming to be some type of government official seeking bail money for a relative who has been arrested in another country. Another scam claims you owe late or overdue fines or penalties and threatens to have the Marshall’s Office come to your home and arrest you if you don’t pay them immediately.
Sometimes, these people don’t know who they are calling. Last year our dispatch center received one of these calls. The dispatcher actually got into an argument with the caller, trying to convince them they had called a police department, after several minutes the caller finally said he was sending the Marshall’s Office to have her arrested for not paying some penalties. Needless to say, no one ever showed up at the police department to arrest her.
On a sad note, we had an older individual become a victim after sending $5,000 to someone claiming to be a government official in the Bahamas. The caller claimed the victim’s granddaughter had wrecked a rental car, and was required to deposit $5,000 for future damage claims before she could leave the country. If the victim would have only called and checked on his granddaughter, he would have learned she had returned to the U.S. from her trip to the Bahamas the day before.
To report scams or frauds, you should contact your local law enforcement agency, as well as the State Attorney Generals’ Office.
You may also report it to;
- Federal Trade Commission at; ftccomplaintassistant.gov, or you may call them at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4367)
- If internet related you may report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at; ic3.gov
- If mail related, to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at; postalinspectors.uspis.gov or 1-877-876-2455
The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force website offers more information about where else to report specific types of fraud activity. Their website is located at; stopfraud.gov. This is an excellent web site, which contains a lot of valuable information.