SAULT STE. MARIE — Recently a member from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office was in the Sault talking about Phone, Mail and Email Scams and Identity Theft and what you can do to prevent it. Over two days Community Members, Employees from War Memorial Hospital and Soo Co-op Credit Union learned about Scams and Identity Theft from Harry Werkema from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Team. “Identity Theft and Scams can happen to anyone. That’s why it’s important to keep your personal information to yourself – offline and online. One of the best ways to protect yourself is by never providing personal information to someone unless you have initiated the contact.” Werkema said, “Scams come in all different shapes and sizes. It’s important to learn the warning signs, as well as things you can do to protect yourself.”
The scammer’s goal is to trick you or steal your identity. Most scams include the common elements like urgent or secret requests, believable stories or connections, appeals to your emotions, requests for money (often a fee in advance) or personal information, and payment form (wire transfer, cash reload card, gift card, remotely created check). If it sounds too good to be true – it is.
Here are just a few things to look out for to prevent you from being scammed:
1. 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 – whether it comes as a text, a phone call or an email.
2. 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. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
3. Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to 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, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.
4. 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.
5. 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 Financial Institution.
6. Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams. Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox.
For more information on Scam and Identity Theft visit www.ftc.gov.