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Scam alert! Don’t become a victim

By Staff | Jun 19, 2019

In an effort to keep its island neighbors informed, F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva wanted to share information on an increase in reported phone and Internet scams. It will offer a workshop on the topic in the fall, but in the meantime, the community is advised to be aware of the uptick in fraudulent activities. F.I.S.H. reported the following:

Did you know?

– According to Experian, there were 47,567 scams added to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker in 2018.

– Microsoft’s security team reported that malicious phishing attacks are on the rise by a massive 250 percent.

– Techniques used by scammers are becoming more proficient and harder to detect.

F.I.S.H. reported that the following is a partial listing of the top 10 scams and frauds and tips obtained from Consumer Fraud Reporting and the Better Business Bureau:

Top 10 scams, frauds

– Debt collection: Calls from harassing collectors who are attempting to collect a debt.

– Fake government officials: An email, letter or phone call from a government agency (typically the IRS or FBI) instructing you to wire money.

– Identity theft, phishing and pharming: Scammers gain access to your confidential information, like social security numbers, date of birth and then use it to apply for credit cards, loans and financial accounts.

– Phone scams: This includes telemarketers violating the Do Not Call list, robodialers and scammers calling up pretending to be from a bank or credit card company.

– Loans scams/credit fixers: False promises of business or personal loans, even if credit is bad, for a fee upfront. Or a scam that promises to repair your credit for a fee.

– Fake prizes, sweepstakes, free gifts, lottery scams: You receive an email claiming you won a prize, lottery or gift, and you only have to pay a “small fee” to claim it.

– Internet merchandise scams: You purchase something online, but it is either never delivered or it is not what they claimed it was, or is defective.

– Automobile-related complaints: Car loans, car buying, car sales, auto repair, fake or useless extended warranties.

– Credit bureaus and related credit scams: Credit/debit card fees, pay day loans, credit repair companies and unauthorized use of credit/debit cards.

– Phishing/spoofing emails: Emails that pretend to be from a company, organization or government agency but ask you to enter or confirm your personal information.

Helpful tips

– Never send money to someone you have never met face-to-face.

– Don’t click on links or open attachments in unsolicited email. Links can download malware onto your computer and/or steal your identity.

– Don’t believe everything you see. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals, fonts and other details. Even Caller ID can be faked.

– Don’t buy online unless the transaction is secure. Make sure the website has “https” in the URL (the extra s is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar.

– Be extremely cautious when dealing with anyone you’ve met online. Scammers use dating Web sites, Craigslist, social media and many other sites to reach targets.

– Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited.

– Don’t be pressured to act immediately. Scammers typically try to make you think something is scarce or a limited time offer.

– Use secure, traceable transactions when making payments for goods, services, taxes, and debts. Do not pay by wire transfer, prepaid money card, gift card, or other non-traditional payment method.

– Whenever possible, work with local businesses that have proper identification, licensing and insurance.

– Be cautious about what you share on social media and consider only connecting with people you already know.