- Scammers use names of public officials or family members to try and get your money.
- Never send cash in the mail.
- Only do business with people you know and trust.
MILLERSBURG — A recent scam making its way into the area involved using a local authority’s name via text to request the purchase of a gift card, asking to give them the number on the gift card and then absconding with the information and the funds.
A Holmes County employee received a text from someone using the name of a county commissioner, saying they were away at a conference and needed some help. They asked the employee to purchase a gift card and call them with the number.
Holmes County Commissioner Dave Hall advises that anyone who receives such a request should take a moment and think about it before even responding, noting that scammers generally prey on older people who are often more willing to assist others in need.
The commissioner warned that scammers use information from the internet that provides public information about government officials to try to personalize their requests, which helps in luring their potential victims.
“If you get a text like that, pause a moment and think about it,” Hall said.
Hall added that it’s a shame people can’t use their savvy to try and help and be more productive in society rather than to try and take advantage of innocent individuals and cheat them out of their hard-earned dollars.
Types of scams
Family emergency, romance and “you’ve won” are popular scams, as well as many other attempts to get you to share your personal information, according to Ed Miller, vice president operations services manager/security Ed of Commercial and Savings Bank.
Other scams include giving computer access for software updates.
“We have seen people get an email with a link to click. The main thing here is, never click links unless you know what they are for,” Miller said. “That gives them access to your computer. We get tests at the bank each month to keep us alert.”
Giving access to online banking, where a customer is led to believe company accidentally deposited too much money into your account, is an example of this scam. The scammer will instruct you to go to the bank, get cash and mail it in a package.
Miller reiterated something you should never, ever do is send cash in the mail and never give access to your computer.
He advises keeping your money ― and your information ― to yourself. Never share your financial information with someone who contacts you unsolicited, and never wire money to anyone who asks you to without a legitimate business reason to do so.
If you are notified about winning a prize, did you sign up or play the game to begin with?
If you receive a check telling you that you have won, with instructions to deposit the check and send part of it back to cover the taxes, it is most likely a scam.
“You better believe the government is going to get their tax before you ever see any money,” Miller said. “We often ask if they played the lottery, and they say they didn’t. Do they get Reader’s Digest? Again, no. Then how could you have won.”
How to avoid being scammed
Following are suggestions from Commercial & Savings Bank about ways to avoid becoming a victim of a scammer:
- Check your monthly statements and credit card bills for any unusual charges. Keep track of what bills you are expecting and contact the biller if a monthly statement is not received.
- Regularly check your credit report for unexplained changes.
- Keep a close eye on your wallet, credit cards, passwords, and any other personal information that could give someone else access to your money.
- Be careful how and where you use your credit cards, both in person and online. Only shop from stores and on websites that are trustworthy and reputable.
- Keep your email and phone number current with your bank, so you can receive text alerts for unusually large purchases.
- Set up security passwords with your bank. Use answers that no one else will know.
Miller adds that if you receive a call to help a family member get out of jail or who is in an emergency situation and needs financial assistance, call that family member and speak to them directly.
“Always know who you are dealing with,” Miller said. “And when in doubt, talk to your bank or family member. And when in comes to investments, do your research. Ask others you know who have worked with a particular company. And deal locally.”
Dating sites are problematic, as a so-called boyfriend of girlfriend will try to borrow money to get out of a jam. Miller said he often breaks up these relationships, because as soon as you stop sending money, your relationship is going to end.
Miller noted that bank tellers are trained to watch for people taking out large amounts of cash. Fraudsters usually tell their potential victims not to talk to your bank or anyone about what you are doing. They will instruct you to say it is for a home improvement or for a downpayment on a car for a better deal.
Do not let yourself become a victim of fraud.