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  • Writer's pictureiCare Community Magazine

Watch Out for Scams

From the Sheriff, Ken J. Mascara

IRS, kidnappings, timeshares, contests, even Florida Power and Light bills and COVID vaccines…all now ploys to try and scam you out of money.

Each and every day it seems like there is a new scam plaguing our community, seeking to steal your money or personal information and wreak havoc on your credit or financial stability. Remember the old cliché “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is”.

Not a day goes by that my office isn’t notified of a new twist on the same old scams, and it amazes me each time when I hear how unsuspecting victims have succumbed to the scheme and are out hundreds, thousands and in some cases, hundreds of thousands, of dollars. Now, these scammers are evening using my office phone number and names of my good deputies to try and trick you out of money. JUST HANG UP!

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides up-to-date and helpful information on current scams being seen around the country and these tips to help you avoid being a victim.

• Spot imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request - by text, phone call, or email.

• Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up.

• Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Don’t pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize (like the lottery, a raffle or a sweepstakes), but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.

• Consider how you pay. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable [gift] cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit, Green Dot or Vanilla. Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.

• Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.

• Don’t deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.

Before you give money to anyone you don’t know personally, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. Don’t be threatened by someone asking for your money, slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert - or JUST HANG UP.

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