It Can Happen to You!

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By Rev. Keith E. Lawder, GUMF President/CEO

Financial scammers seem to be everywhere today. They seem to target good-hearted people. I recently received three scam attempts within 24 hours. Two were by phone and the other one was through an email.

The calls each involved threats of dire action over allegedly past due accounts if funds were not sent immediately via credit card. The first one was supposedly from the IRS. The second one was supposedly from a retail store. I hung up on each. The IRS and virtually all legitimate creditors send letters when there is a problem.

The third scam attempt sounded so believable it almost worked. One of our staff members received an email that looked like it was from me. The email asked the individual to do me a favor since I was “tied up” in a meeting. Could that employee go pick up some Amazon gift cards for me and email back a picture of them? The scheme fell apart when the individual called me to ask where I wanted the gift cards delivered. The scammer got my email address from our website and made the email appear as though I was the sender.

What can you do to protect yourself from scammers? Well, my best advice is to apply healthy skepticism to requests for your money. Hopefully the following tips will help to protect you.

  1. If it just doesn’t feel quite right, slow down and verify that the request is real by calling the individual or company which is requesting your money. Stores and government agencies all have a website with 800 numbers.
     
  2. To protect your identity, do not give out any personal information with your social security number, bank account, or credit card numbers unless you are sure it is legitimate. Most legitimate companies will only ask for the last four digits of your account number.
     
  3. Scammers like gift cards because they are hard to trace.
     
  4. Spelling errors and unusual names or phrases can tip you off to a scam. Scammers may be around the corner or on the other side of the world.
     
  5. Recovering money after a scam is often very difficult, if not impossible.


We all use our phones, emails, and credit cards for good purposes a lot more than we used to. Unfortunately, this provides more opportunities for untrustworthy people to hack our emails or try a phone scam. Some scammers are pretty smart. To avoid becoming a victim of a scam, we need to be vigilant and skeptical at all times.