How to Spot a Scam
YVB is spreading awareness about fraud to help our communities rise above these all-too-common crimes. Previously, we outlined some basic rules for avoiding fraud, and we also went over what to do if you become a victim. Now, we’ll share some of today's most prolific scams and give you tips to bypass them. Please visit our Education Center to read the other articles in this series and to learn about more scams.
In this ruse, a fraudster poses as a person or a business/institution you trust. They may pretend to be from the IRS, police, or other government agency–insisting you’ve done something wrong (e.g., back taxes, warrant for arrest) and make threats if you don’t send money. But, the IRS will never ask you to send them a gift card to pay your taxes! Remember to contact the agency directly if you’re unsure. In the “Grandparent Scam,” a scammer impersonates a grandchild who urgently needs funds for an emergency like an accident, injury or foreign arrest. If you receive this call: reach out to your grandchild directly, contact your family, or ask the caller a personal question they should be able to answer. Don’t let their scare tactics get you!
Romance / Facebook Friend Scams:
This is the most heartbreaking scam and, unfortunately, it's common in the Yampa Valley. In this scam, fraudsters connect online with innocent people who are looking for friendship or romance. Over weeks, months or even years the scammer gains that person’s trust and convinces them to send money for things like plane tickets or other large expenses. They are so convincing and have victims so manipulated that it often takes a third party to recognize the fraud. Commonly, the victim will vehemently defend the fraudster’s “real” intent. The hardest part is, if the victim truly believes that the relationship is real, their life savings could be at stake.
Computer Virus/Takeover Scams:
Never allow cold-callers or -emailers (calls or emails you didn’t initiate or request) to remotely access your computer because they can install code that steals your personal info. For example, someone from McAfee may call claiming you have a computer virus that they can fix. Don’t fall for it! Fraudsters will also use web pop-ups and emails with bogus links to get sensitive information. One tricky variation is an email stating unauthorized purchases have been made on your account (e.g., bank, PayPal, Amazon), with a link or number to contact a phony representative. In this case, log directly into your account in question to view activity.
This is extremely common fraud in the Yampa Valley, and one of the most likely to succeed. In this type of fraud, scammers send a check to purchase something you’re selling or offering. The check is often for more than you are requesting for payment. The scammer then requests you to immediately make a separate purchase or return a portion of their “overpayment”. By the time your bank discovers that you received a fraudulent check (several days later), the money you spent or “returned” is long gone.
This scam involves a fake or imitated company hiring through online job postings. They send out seemingly real contracts to get sensitive info, ask to mobile deposit a check through your online banking and often request that you forward deposited checks using methods like Zelle or CashApp. Just look out for offers that seem too good to be true!
LEARN MORE IN OUR EDUCATION CENTER