Money Maven: Watch out for financial scams!

By Sheryl Rowling

Sheryl Rowling

SAN DIEGO — No matter whether you’re old or young, experienced or naive, you could be the target of a financial scam. There are many of them out there! In this article, I will describe a few recent ones.

Grandson needs bail money: This is an old scheme, but it must be successful since it has been happening for years. In the “grandparent” fraud, an older adult receives a phone call from an “out-of-town sheriff” stating that his or her grandson had been arrested for intoxication. Because the sheriff confiscated his cell phone and the grandson didn’t want his parents to know, he gave the sheriff his grandparent’s phone number. In order to bail the grandson out, the grandparent must wire money immediately. As loving grandparents, many targets fall for this.

If you get a call like this, please call or text your grandson first! Your grandson would likely answer and the scam would have been thwarted.

Another fraud is aimed at successful working people. The scammer will email the target from what appears to be the head of the employee’s company. The email says that because the head trusts the employee, he/she is asking the employee to contact their attorney immediately – and the attorney will explain everything. When the employee calls the number, the “attorney” states a plausible reason why the employee has to advance funds on behalf of the company, which will be reimbursed within a couple of weeks. As a loyal employee, the target often agrees to wire money.

What the employee should do is call the head of the company. Thus, the swindle would be prevented.

Be careful when asked for personal information by email. Many cyber-crimes are committed by criminals whose email addresses appear to be legit. One simple way to avoid most of these scams is to hover your mouse over the email address. It might say it’s from the IRS, but when you hover over it, the address is totally different! Please know that the IRS NEVER emails a taxpayer. Another variation of this appears as though PayPal or your credit card company is requiring billing updates. Don’t ever click through the links and don’t ever provide information in this manner. If you are unsure, call the company directly using the phone number on the back of your credit card.

No matter how old the scam, they seem to never go away. All the criminals need is one or two suckers to believe the ploy. Stay informed and be wary! By being extra careful, you might be able to avoid being ripped off in a financial scam!

*
Rowling is a certified public accountant, personal finance specialist, and principal of Rowling & Associates. She may be contacted via [email protected]

 

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