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It is a great time to be a scam artist

Right now is a great time to be a scam artist. Tax season is always fertile for the unscrupulous. Plus, there have been reports of con jobs emerging surrounding COVID vaccinations. Then there are the run-of-the-mill general scams that occur any time of the year.

It is terrible when anybody gets skimmed, hoodwinked or outright robbed. Often it is our senior citizens who by their very nature are very trusting folks. After all, that is the way they were raised. They trust the word of others including strangers. Thieves are very good at what they do: cajoling, prodding and pulling personal information from someone on the other end of the phone line and, nowadays, on the other side of the computer screen.

We have offered this advice up before and let this be another reminder. Anyone calling you and saying they are representing the FBI, IRS, etc. is not legit. Absolutely do not trust anyone trying to sell you a COVID vaccine shot. That is not how it works. Absolutely do not give out your banking and finance information. Or send money in good faith.

Granted, the stock reply to all of these suggestions from most of us would be “gee and golly, no kidding!” Still, hundreds of people get tele or cyber-robbed each and every day across our country. Thieves are literally laughing all the way to your bank.

If leery when there is a stranger soliciting on the other end, you have every right to hang up. It still isn’t against the law in our nation to hang up on someone you do not know — especially if suspecting that they are up to no good. Scammers often threaten would-be victims with arrest or legal action. They may offer to “increase” benefits or protect assets. They may demand payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, pre-paid debit cards, internet currency or plain old cash. You have read about such crimes on the very pages of this newspaper.

If you innocently enough get swindled, immediately file a police report. Depending on the specifics of the crime you can reach out to the Better Business Bureau. The Federal Trade Commission offers guidelines pertaining to scams.

The “gold” fraud passport for any crook is a would-be victim’s Social Security number. Do not ever give it out unless you are 100 percent certain it is OK to do so. The Social Security Administration says it will typically send you a letter if there is a need to reach you. The latest scam trick of using robocalls is on the increase. It increases a scammer’s efficiency. Kind of like an assembly line for crime. Fraudsters pretend to be government employees and claim there is identity theft or another problem with one’s Social Security number, accounts or benefits. That office stresses that its employees would never threaten you, suspend your SS number or demand payment by any means.

Again, if you have a concern of having been victimized, report it immediately to local law enforcement so that there is a report on record. Reach out to a relevant government agency. Here are informative websites: oig.ssa.gov/scam and https://www.ssa.gov/antifraudfacts/

Don’t be too embarrassed to act if swindled. Your input could help others from being likewise victimized. Share your experiences with family and friends lest they get robbed.

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