Scam and fraud protection advice as we head into the holidays!

Prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, Crime Prevention Coordinator, Jennifer Burbridge, also sent us the following:

Dear community members, Block Watch Captains and SW Precinct community groups,

Around this time of year, around the Holiday season, we often see an increase in scam and fraud incidents. Crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people each year- for money and/or personal information. These crooks often combine new technology with old tricks to get what they are looking for. Subsets of the population are more vulnerable to these types of scams- but everyone can help protect themselves by keeping the following ten practical suggestions in mind, provided by the Federal Trade Commission:

  1. Spot imposters– scammers will often try to disguise themselves as someone you trust (such as a government official, family member or charitable organization). Never send money or give our personal information in response to an unexpected request.
  2. Do online searches– try typing in the company or product name into a search engine with key words like ‘review’, ‘complaint’ or ‘scam’. You can also look up phone numbers to check on their validity.
  3. Do not believe caller ID– technology makes it simple for scammers to fake a caller ID. If you receive a call asking for personal information or money, hang up. If you feel the caller is legitimate- try calling back a number, you know is genuine for that person or company.
  4. Do not pay upfront for a promise– scammers may try to ask you to pay up front for debt relief, loan offers, mortgage assistance or a job (such as handy work or lawn maintenance).
  5. Consider how you pay– most credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, while other payment methods (such as wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram) do not have these protections. Government offices and honest companies will not require you to use a risky payment method, keep this in mind when paying.
  6. Talk to someone– scammers will often want you to make decisions in a hurry and may even threaten you. Before you give money or personal information, slow down, check out the story, do an online search and maybe even talk to an expert or friend about the request.
  7. Hang up on robocalls– if you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report this to the Federal Trade Commission and/or to local police. These calls are illegal and are often fake. Do not follow prompts, just hang up.
  8. Be skeptical about free trials online– some companies will use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you each month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, review the company’s cancelation policy and always check your monthly statements to review charges.
  9. Don’t deposit a check and wire money back– banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but discovering a fraudulent check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be fake, you are responsible for repaying the bank.
  10. Sign up for free scam alerts from the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/scams– get the latest tips and advice about scams directly to your email.

For more information, or to access tips and suggestions in other languages, please visit the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer website- https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/money-credit

As always, please feel free to share this information with your neighbors, friends and community groups.

Let us know if you have any questions.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving week!

 

Jennifer Burbridge #8048

Crime Prevention Coordinator, Southwest Precinct

Desk: (206) 256-6820, Cell: (206) 471-2849

Jennifer.Burbridge@seattle.gov

 

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