Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

W Shopper Columns



SPOTTING SCAMS

Scams come at us almost daily. Luckily, whether phone calls or emails or even face to face, scams always use similar tactics.



The main thing to understand about scams is that they create a situation that makes people feel pressured to act quickly and then make mistakes.

The most dangerous scams are when the scammer threatens something disastrous to the victim, such as criminal proceedings or financial loss if they don't comply.

These phone calls always start with a recording. The victim might be told that their bank account or credit card has been suspended for fraud. The recording might say that they are being investigated by the FB, IRS, or some other scary organization. Or it may claim that their computer is sending out viruses.

If you press the relevant number (usually 1), someone, often with a distinctive foreign accent, will answer. Claiming to be from that organization, they will assure you there is nothing to fear and try to convince you that they can help you sort out the problem.

This help always involves you giving them some of your most confidential personal information. Their excuse for needing it is to prove your identity. This info can include bank account data, credit card details, passwords, or other things like social security numbers.

There are also other robocalls saying that your Amazon or eBay account was used to order something expensive. You are told to press a number to contest this purchase. Once again, someone with an American-sounding name but an un-American accent usually answers.

The easiest way to prevent yourself from being scammed is to ask yourself what the other person wants.

1. Check the caller ID.

2. Think about the scenario. The more pressure there is, the more likely it is a scam. The FBI, IRS, and other government agencies never call to say people they are going to be arrested. They definitely do no use busy call centers in foreign countries. Banks always verify who you are with partial information, such as the last four digits of your account, credit card, or Social Security number. Banks will never ask you for the full numbers.

3. Listen to the caller's accent, grammar, and word choice. Also, listen for any background noises.

4. Ask questions. Regardless of what organization they claim to be calling from, ask them to give you its full name, location, phone number, their department, and extension number.


When they ask why you need that information, tell them you're going to call back using the phone number on the organization's official website.

If they refuse to answer your questions, hang up.



Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design. Since 1997,
his computer programming and graphic design knowledge have kept his company
at the forefront of the latest technology in web development.