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How to Protect Ourselves from Scams Part 1

scams

A City Called Nub

As a devotee of all things true crime for about twenty-five years, it’s hard for something to shock me. Enter Nub City, aka Vernon, Florida, in the Texas panhandle.  Vernon had two-thirds of the entire nation’s accidental dismemberment insurance payouts.  Almost all of the residents of Vernon had taken out insurance policies that covered “accidental amputations”. For more than twenty years, folk showed up at weddings, funerals, town square celebrations with missing eyes, feet, fingers, ears and no one batted an eye (pun intended). One man said he shot his foot off because he mistook it for a squirrel. With a severe economic downturn for Vernon, scratching your ear with a hunting knife could have led to a decent payoff. It begs the question; if people would cut off parts of their own body for cash, how will they learn to protect themselves from a scam?

Scams are absolutely nothing new, but they are coming with more frequency and sophistication. Scammers have the same number of hours that we all do BUT they use their time to think of ways to get us to part with our money. And to be honest, they’re getting good at it. With another stimulus check being released soon, the sharks smell blood in the water and we’re being circled.

The lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, the milder weather, and seeing the rollout of the vaccine, have made us all feel more hopeful like we’re turning a new corner. Unfortunately, some of us are letting our financial guard down. Let’s make sure we are being aware and know how to protect ourselves from scams. Paying attention is a crucial factor so we keep our money safe.

There is no way to write about every scam since there are just too many out there, but knowing how to protect ourselves from them can help tremendously.

Digital Grave Robber

Just like Dr. Frankenstein used various parts to assemble his creature, online thieves are using bits and pieces of  identifying information to create “new people.” A social security number, a DOB, a former address, and a decent credit score, all from different people, can lead to years of credit cleanup and frustration for each involved. My suggestion may sound callous but here it is.

When you have gatherings, parties, or cookouts at your home again lock up all of your important papers, your wallets, and your purses. It doesn’t matter if it’s just friends and family. A large percentage of ID theft is familial. Yes. FAMILIAL. Also, make sure to freeze the credit of everyone in your household, especially your children. It’s too late to find out their credit has been ruined when they apply for their first job at 15 or 16 years old.  Everything you need to know about freezing and thawing your credit is in the link below.

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs

Dirty Laundry

This scam surprised me because it involves mostly young people between the ages of 20 and 30. It’s a new twist on earlier job scams and is quite effective. This is because of the high rate of unemployment stemming from the pandemic. When a person answers an online employment ad, they invariably get the job and are immediately asked to open another bank account. This alternate bank account will allow the “employer” to funnel large amounts of money, all in the employees’ name. They’re paid a percentage of the funds but are liable for all the risks.

Many young people use phone banking apps, which is what makes them most vulnerable to this scam. The “employer” will test the person with a moderate deposit to see if the new employee will keep a percentage of the money. They will then deposit the rest into the new account. Over time the deposits are larger and the employee gets used to more money. The employee is unaware that they are part of a money-laundering scheme. These scammers bank on (pun intended) these young people telling their friends how to get in on the scheme. Who would turn down a way to get free money in a hard economy? Be sure to talk to the young people in your life and share with them how to avoid this particular scam.

I realize this is only just a very small sample of how to protect ourselves from scams but stayed tuned for my next blog, where I’ll describe more scams and ways to keep your money safe.

The team at CESI is committed to helping you make wise financial decisions and to helping you understand how to get out and stay out of debt.  For a free debt analysis, contact us and find out how we can help.


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