Make a Smart New Year’s Resolution – Don’t Get Scammed

by Barbara Parrott McGinity, LMSW

It is so easy to get scammed. The con artists are very, very good. Their stories are convincing, they earn your confidence…and we know they are successful because they continue to make money off people who believe them. Let’s try to make 2015 scam free by working hard to follow this advice:

1) There is no such thing as a free lunch! Why do they give you free food? They have your undivided attention and you feel obligated to listen. The free lunch comes with a sales pitch. Save yourself from heartache and heartburn and stop and check on the product and company with the BBB before writing any checks.

2) A nice young man/woman approaches you in the parking lot, gas station, or department store needing money to get home, for diapers, or to visit their sick mother. These are not people in need, they are all con artists. They have a great story and are so pathetic, plus they only need just a few dollars…so why not? They are crooks that is why not! Spend your money on yourself. If you are concerned about homeless people, give your money to a shelter or a non-profit that helps the homeless. Giving money away like this only makes them successful and they will keep up the scam.

3) Stop answering your telephone! Use an answering machine to screen all your calls and tell your friends and family what you are doing. This is the only way to avoid getting caught in a trap to give out money or personal information like your Social Security Number or your Medicare number. If you answer the phone and talk to these people, even briefly, they will keep calling back. Here are some of the most recent scams: a) you have a virus on your computer; b) you owe the IRS money; c) you have won the lottery; d) your doctor wants you to have a knee brace or back brace. What do these things all have in common? They either want you to wire money or give them your banking information or your Medicare number. These are crooks…hang up and stop answering the phone.

4) Talk to your family about the Grandparent Scam. Set up a family code word to ask any callers who say they are a family member in trouble. When asked to keep something a secret, immediately hang up and call your family members to discuss the call. One lady in California sent more than $60,000 to these scammers and did not talk to family members because the scammer told her there was a gag order in place. You should never believe that a stranger on the phone is giving you factual information. Check it out first.

Let’s resolve to work together this year to defeat scammers. Cut this out and discuss with your friends. Together, we just might not only save people from losing their hard earned savings, but we might also put the crooks out of business. Wouldn’t that be nice!

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