Who has received a phone call from someone claiming to be a sheriff’s deputy or the IRS threatening to come and arrest you if you don’t pay up on a fine?
There are also the calls from someone claiming to be a relative or someone representing that relative asking for money to get out of a legal fix in another country, or even another state.
You might also get a call from someone claiming you have won a huge lottery prize and you just need to send a few hundred dollars to process your claim to the cash.
Recently, The Times received a report of a resident who had been contacted by a group posing as Publisher’s Clearing House and, to receive her winnings, she first needed to send a check to pay for the taxes.
The callers will often ask that the money be sent via a money transfer card or gift cards.
These are some of the most popular scams being used today to separate people from their hard-earned money. They usually play on someone’s fears or desire for financial security.
The good news is it seems more and more people are recognizing the various schemes and challenging the caller or simply hang up.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is involved in consumer protection and has information or tips to avoid being caught up in such schemes.
Tips outlined by the FTC include:
*Keep in mind that wiring money is like sending cash – once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.
*Don’t send money to someone you don’t know, including unknown on-line merchants. Don’t send cash or use a wire transfer service.
*Don’t respond to messages asking for your personal or financial information, whether the message comes as an e-mail, phone call, a text message or an ad.
*Don’t play a foreign lottery. It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery.
*Don’t agree to deposit a check from someone you don’t know and then wire money back, no matter how convincing the story is.
*Read your bills and monthly statements regularly – on paper and on-line. If you see charges you don’t recognize or didn’t approve, contact your bank, card issuer or other creditor immediately.
*In the wake of a natural disaster or other crisis, give to established charities rather than one that seems to have sprung up overnight.
*Talk to your doctor before buying health products or signing up for medical treatments. Visit ftc.gov/health for more information.
*Remember, there is no such thing as a sure thing.
*Know where an offer comes from and who you’re dealing with.
*Never give your personal information (bank account number, social security number, billing account number, etc.) over the phone. No bill collector or legitimate entity will ever ask for that kind of information over the phone.
People with questions about offers or companies can check with the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org.
Also, visit OnGuardOnline.gov to learn more about avoiding internet fraud, secure your computer and protect personal information.
To report a potential scam locally, contact the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at 602-876-1011.