New scams are reported every day. We at the Abington Police Department see firsthand how much damage a scam can cause in a person's life. These scam artists not only take our hard earned money from us but can also hurt our credit scores, causing hours and hours of unnecessary phone calls and follow-up to get everything back on track. If our identity is taken by these thieves it can take a substantial amount of time to get things straightened out, time which none of us have to spare these days.
Picture this: Your dream house you were finally going to purchase... That shiny new car you always dreamt about being parked in your driveway... Now imagine coming to the bargaining table only to find out you currently owed thousands of dollars to a company you had never heard of and your credit was completely ruined. How would you feel?
This doesn't have to be your story. You can educate yourself on how to outwit these scam artists. Sometimes outwitting them only takes a second. One way would be to ask for contact information to verify the unsolicited phone call you got from "Wells Fargo" about an error on your mortgage payment and asking for personal information to rectify the problem. Most scam artists would either hang up at this point or give you a bogus call back number. Just hang up, call Wells Fargo directly, (of course not from the number the scammer provided), and they will be able to tell you whether there is an issue or not. Most companies will not call you requesting personal information such as your full social security number or DOB and if they do they won't have a problem with you calling their main number to verify.
There are too many scams and variations of scams out there to name, but most follow the same script with minor changes. We are providing you with some links you can use as a resource to educate yourself and to know what you should do in case you become the victim of a scam or identity theft.
Always remember these few tips and they will go a long way:
1. Verify, verify, verify
2. Never give personal information out to someone who calls you on the phone unless you have requested that phone call.
3. Never respond with personal information in an email that you are not expecting, our rule of thumb is to never respond with personal information in an email, as anyone that has access to your computer or the person's computer that is receiving your information can see it.
4. With the digital age, Caller ID on your home phone or cell phone can be faked (Caller ID Spoofing). So just because it says the call is coming from the FBI, doesn't necessarily mean it's coming from them. This goes back to #1.
5. This probably could have slipped into the #2 spot but, don't forget this saying "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is".
6. Everyone is entitled to a free credit report annually in Massachusetts from all 3 Credit Reporting Agencies: Experian, Equifax and Transunion. Make sure you get yours by contacting these agencies or going online and thoroughly review the report for any unauthorized accounts that may have been opened using your personal information.
Please use the following resources to educate yourself or as a guideline if you ever find yourself the victim of a scam and don't forget to visit our website at ABINGTONPOLICE.ORG.
Federal Trade Commission Website
Reference to general information
Steps to follow if you are already a victim of ID theft
National White Collar Crime Center
Internet crime prevention tips
Description of some schemes currently in use
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Safety tips and information