It may be April Fool’s Day, but most any day can find someone trying make a fool out of an innocent victim.
The Better Business Bureau has compiled a list of the top scams.
* Don’t be tricked by a local phone number or well known company/financial institution showing up on your caller ID. Scam artists are now using software that allows you to alter caller ID information to trick you into answering your phone and falling for their lies.
* Don’t click on links or open attachments on emails or text messages with claims that you’ve won a lottery, there’s an issue with your bank account or you’re in trouble with a govt agency like the IRS. These are designed to take you to a site or open a file that will download a virus or spyware onto your computer or phone
* Be leery of anyone who tells you to load cash on a green dot money pak and provide them the number on the back of the card. The short list of approved companies using green dot money paks for money transfers is listed on moneypak.com.
* Don’t allow a bogus debt collector to scare you into paying debt you don’t owe with the threat of arrest. If you truly owe a debt, a collector should provide written documentation within 5 days of your request for it.
* Be aware that some countries in the Caribbean only require 3 digit area codes for calls from the US. Most popular of these right now is Jamaica, using the 876 area code. They will call and claim you’ve won money and then ask you to pay taxes or fees via cash on a green dot moneypak, which you should never do. If you return a call to this area code and other similar ones, you’ll be charged international fees.
*Watch out for emergency scams where a caller/email pretends to be from a family member or friend that needs money wired or sent via a green dot moneypak to help them out of an emergency situation.
* Beware of bogus tech support calls. A caller claims to be with a well known tech support company and indicates you have a virus on your computer. For a fee, they’ll help you resolve it – which also requires you to provide them access to your computer – something you never want to do if they initiated the call to you. This is a scam designed to get access to your files, your email address book and potentially your bank account.
* Never pay an advance fee for a loan. Legitimate companies do not charge up front fees in exchange for a verbal promise that you’ve been approved for a loan.
As always, contact the Better Business Bureau for more information. Call (256) 850-0719.
Also note, the next Shred Day is coming up on April 26th from 9 am to 11 pm at the Space and Rocket Center!