Calls about a grandchild needing money to get out of jail or to get home from a faraway place.
Or more recently, calls from the “IRS,” “police,” “FBI,” “Social Security” or “Medicare.”
These are all lies.
Yet we fall for it.
At the end of June, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department was contacted by two individuals who said a man called and told them they had a warrant for each of them to be arrested. They were then told they could have the warrant lifted if they provided identifiable information or payment in the form of gift cards.
The Sheriff’s Department, however, does not accept payment with gift cards or require people to provide any numbers over the phone. If payments are to be made, the department does not accept them over the phone.
Scarier still may be calls from “IRS” regarding tax payment problems or the “FBI.”
They do not call you or ask for any personal, or bank or credit, information or threaten you with arrest if a payment, real or imagined, isn’t made immediately.
How about Medicare seeking updated information?
Or receiving a call telling you must talk to a concerned official about your Social Security because he discovered fraudulent activity on your account?
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Neither randomly calls individuals to seek a file update, Social Security numbers, bank or credit card information.
None of them would ask for gift cards or wire transfers as payment.
Government inspector scams make up more than half of 535,417 impostor scam reports since January, said an AARP article in March. Of that number, 18 percent of those scammed lost money and total losses hit $418 million, more than for any other type of fraud.
The Federal Trade Commission said government inspector scams have been the No. 1 impostor scam since 2014. For 2019 through May, the FTC said there were 176,259 such scam reports.
Through the first quarter, the median loss was $3,000.
So, what can be done?
AARP suggests: Not answering the phone if you do not recognize the number. Not giving any personal information over the phone.
The FTC further suggests: Do not trust caller ID. Do not pay with a gift card or wire transfer.
Government agencies DON’T call you.
If you receive a call, do nothing until you’ve checked with the real agency.
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