Scam artists look to make a buck at our expense | #phishing | #scams

Trust is a pretty important word when it comes to where we spend our money, because in today’s world scam artists appear to be lurking everywhere.

Many years ago someone I knew made the comment to me, “Don’t trust anyone.” When he said that my first thought was that is pretty cynical, but years later I realized there also was a lot of truth in it.

Each year, unsuspecting people are scammed out of millions of dollars and the weapon of choice with many of them is either a telephone or a computer. The old adage of “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is” holds true in many of those instances. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are still lots of scam artists who try to do it face to face. It’s sad we live in a world like that, but you have to be on your toes at all times especially from the unseen ones.

There doesn’t seem to be a day that goes by where we don’t receive a robocall, text or email from someone who either wants a donation to some organization you never heard of they have the deal of the century that is just perfect for you. Problem is in most instances they are just looking to tap into bilking you out of some money.

Crime has changed dramatically with the rise in the use of technology as criminals no longer stand before you holding a weapon to steal your money, but are in most instances located thousands of miles away out of sight and almost invisible. It has gone so high tech that if old Butch and Sundance were trying to operate like they did back then they most likely would be filing for unemployment benefits.

However, it’s no joking matter in the amount of money that is being ripped off from people and a lot of times it is the elderly who end up being the victims. Just recently the News Advocate had a wire story in about an elderly woman being taken for $65,000 on a scam.

Prior to my getting caller ID, I would answer many of those calls because it was impossible to tell who was calling. I always loved the guy who couldn’t really speak English and would say my computer was screwed up and he needed the information to fix it.

What made that interesting at the time was I didn’t own a computer at home because of working on one 12 hours a day at my job.

So, if I was in the right mood it would prompt me to play with him and say something like, “If you know it is broken t, “If that is as good as you guys are at doing your job then you’re fired.”

Then there are the ones who start out like a long lost friend saying, “I am so glad you picked up, because I thought it was going to an answering machine.”

What angers me about that approach is it was used legally by someone who was misleading where the money was actually going. They made it sound like the money was going to support some first responders when it was really going to some lobby committee supporting politicians.

Now with caller ID a call comes in where the number isn’t familiar it doesn’t get answered at my house. In 99.999% of the cases they never leave a message — isn’t that surprising?

So why don’t our politicians step in to put strong measures in place to prevent robocalls? Well 2022 is coming up and just wait until their robocalls start flowing in for donations and to give a spiel about a specific candidate. That is the answer to that question.

However, if you think someone is working a scam, make sure to take time to report it. You may be wise to the fact it is a scam, but you may be helpful in saving the next person on their list some grief.

It is the same with emails that constantly come to my inbox. These are usually easy to spot and the best thing to do is simply delete them without opening them.

What is also important is to have solid and different passwords for your online accounts. It can be frustrating at times because everything online today requires a ID and a password to gain access to an account, but in the long haul it’s better to be safe than sorry by using good, solid ones.

And never use the same ID or password for more than one account as that is a recipe for trouble. Because the first thing a hacker will do if they find out what it is for one of your accounts, they will try it on all of them.

Yes, Butch, Sundance and all the rest used to have to target just one victim at a time, but in today’s high-tech world their modern day counterparts can focus in on thousands before lunch.

So stay safe and alert to anyone having the deal of a lifetime for you or wanting your personal information. Sadly, it will be something we must keep on doing well beyond when I see you again next Monday.

Ken Grabowski is the retired associate editor at the Manistee News Advocate who has more than 36 years experience in the newspaper business.

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