From Dan Osmond - Custer County Sheriff
The Custer County Sheriff’s Office receives reports of phone or email scams on a weekly basis. These types of crimes cost people thousands of dollars and are very difficult to trace. The phone calls or emails are originated in foreign countries making the recovery of money almost impossible. The best way to protect yourself from these crimes is to learn what to watch for and understand what is a legitimate call or email and what isn’t. I have put together a few things that will help you identify a scam.
If you receive a phone call and are told “you must act now or the offer won’t be good”, “you have won a free gift or prize”, “you must send a small amount of money to get a large amount of money in return” or “we need your bank or credit card number” the phone call is a scam. Free gifts or great money making offers never come from someone that has to call you. These calls may show up on your caller id as a local phone number. It is not; if you have any questions hang up and call the number back. Most of the time it will be a phone number that does not work.
A credit card company or bank will never call you and ask for your account number. They have your account numbers already; they don’t need to ask for them. The only time you should give your account numbers over the phone is when you make the call to a company you trust.
Lottery winnings, great money offers and prizes do not come in the form of an email. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know and the subject is free items or money it’s a scam. Other email scams will state something about a transaction that happened with your bank account or credit card account to try and get you to read it. You will not receive an email from these entities to tell you about a transaction.
The best way to avoid these scams is to stop them from reaching you. Most of these only take a few minutes of your time and will protect you from being a victim of a scam.
Put your phone number(s) on the do not call registry. You can do this online at donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222 from the phone number you want protected. This will stop the majority of the telemarketing scams, but not everything. It works for landline and cellular phones.
Never throw away ATM, bank statements or credit card statements in usable form. Shred these documents so someone cannot go through your trash and gain personal information about you.
Set your email account to only accept emails from people in your address book. This will keep the majority of the spam emails out and limit your exposure to risk.
Reconcile your checkbook monthly and watch your other credit and bank accounts closely to make sure you don’t have transactions that you did not authorize or know about.
If you receive a phone call or email and you aren’t sure about it ask someone else and see what they think. When you receive a call ask the caller for their name, number, supervisor etc. and research it before you commit to anything. A legitimate company will not have any problems providing you with this information.
If you think that you have been scammed immediately call your bank, credit card companies and your local law enforcement agency and report it.
People that call you or emails that you read can be very convincing. Remember to stop and think about it and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!