They want your money and they are pretty convincing at getting it. Scammers con people out of billions of dollars every year. Authorities say their techniques get more aggressive and more sophisticated with time.
Cristy Brown was ready for a career change. She posted her updated resume online and was ecstatic when she got a hit.
“They asked me five or six questions,” she told the News 2 I-Team.
What’s strange, the interview was all via text. So was the employment offer.
Then the company sent Cristy a check to buy her work from home materials to get started. She had to use their approved vendor to make purchases, but first they wanted a deposit slip as proof she cashed the check.
“I said I’m not sending you that. Since I wouldn’t send that things pretty much ended,” she explained.
Last year South Carolinians reported actual losses of more than $1.8 million from scams.
There are all sorts of scams.
The most common is the bogus IRS call, which grew 400% in 2016 from calls in 2015.
The grandparent scam has also been lucrative for cons. Someone will call asking like a child or grandchild saying they need money for bail.
In lottery scams, the caller says you’ve won a big prize, but you must first pay some sort of fee to collect.
But before you react to any caller’s requests for money or answer any questions watch for these red flags. The caller:
- Asks you to verify personal identifying information.
- Asks you to wire transfer money or purchase a prepaid/reloadable debit card and give them the number off the card.
- Sends you a check, asking you to cash it and wire or send money somewhere.
- Poses as a local, state, or federal law enforcement officer. They may also pose as other government officials.
- Scares you with threats of arrest or garnishment.
- Makes you think their “offer” is time sensitive.
“A lot of times people who do that knee jerk reaction by giving over the money or information,” Juliana Harris, SC Department of Consumer Affairs, told the I-Team.
She says never act immediately. Instead, hang up and find your own contact number or website to verify what the caller is telling you.
She says scammers often target older people.
“They are at home, and they are answering the phone,” she explained.
So you don’t fall for the tricks, here’s what you need to know:
Courts and law enforcement officers will not call or email you asking for personal information or money.
Legitimate offers will not disappear overnight. Do not feel pressured to make a quick decision.
Never send money to claim a prize, especially through a wire transfer. Wiring money to a location is like sending cash.
Don’t play along or engage with the scammer. It will only make them more likely to call you again.
And Inspector Chip Googe with the Mt. Pleasant Police Department says if you’re getting something in the mail check the details.
“They will look just like your bank. You have to look for little imperfections to know it’s not legitimate,” he told the I-Team.
Cristy says it was easy to spot when she took the time to look.
“It wasn’t a complete address on the check,” she explained, showing were the numbers were missing on the road and pointing to the short zip code.