Phone and Email Scams on the Rise – How You Can Protect Yourself

scamsWe’ve noticed a huge increase in the number of scam attempts we’ve been receiving lately. Here are some examples of what we’ve seen:

By Email (Fortunately, all caught by our anti-virus – make sure yours covers your email – clicking on links or downloading files can load a virus onto your computer in addition to the information you give up)

  • State Court – Notice to appear (wants you to click on a link for more information)
  • Amazon “New Security Feature” (wants you to click on link to download new feature)
  • Suspended Gmail Account (wants you to re-enter your password to reset)

By Phone (These people sound very convincing)

  • Person posing as the IRS demanding payment on a past due tax bill to avoid going to jail
  • Person posing as PG&E threatening to turn power off the next day unless we make a payment to them

When it comes to email scams, make sure you are using an anti-virus program that scans incoming email for spam and viruses.  And if any emails do manage to sneak through, make sure you only open, click on links or download files from sources you trust. Delete suspicious emails immediately and empty your trash to permanently delete the item.

When it comes to phone calls, there are some rules you can follow to avoid being tricked into a phone scam.

Don’t engage. If you figure out immediately that the person calling is a scammer, the best thing to do is to hang up. You can report the number but don’t expect too much in the way of a response. The best thing you can do is notify your family and friends so they aren’t scammed.

Take your time.  Scams work best when the victim doesn’t have time to think things through. Never let yourself be rushed into anything.

Ask lots of questions. The scammer may have some answers prepared, but keep asking and their story will start to unravel.

Verify the answers. If the person calling claims to be representing a company or entity, call their published number for that company and check to see if that person works there. Just telling a scammer you are going to do this is often enough to throw them off.

Don’t pay.  There is no situation where you should give your personal or payment information or social security number to an unsolicited caller. If you hear “wire transfer” you can also safely assume it’s a scam.

Unfortunately there are thousands of folks who fall victim to these scams. There are 86 million scam calls every month, and that’s just in the US! If there is anyone in your family that you think is susceptible to a potential scam, go over these examples and tips with them and hopefully you can prevent them from getting taken advantage of.

About CarolSawdey

I'm a Broker/Realtor in the San Ramon Valley. A trusted advisor in the local community: We help people buy and sell homes. We counsel them thoroughly. We negotiate to their advantage. We keep their stress to a minimum. And we love what we do!
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