While burglaries and car prowls often are the focus of Neighborhood Watches, frauds and scams have become more of a threat to the public in this age of digital communications. Here are some recent reports of frauds and scams going around:
MAYS POND- BECU Debit Card Scam
The Mays Pond Neighborhood Watch reports that an unknown caller has been calling local numbers telling whoever answers that that their BECU debit card has been locked. The caller suggests pressing “1 to go to our security center…” DO NOT PRESS ANY BUTTONS JUST HANG UP!
This alert holds true for any bank or credit union, never give your pin number or any information over the phone from an unsolicited call. Hang up immediately, and then call your financial institution to find out if the call was legitimate.
The Seattle Times:
THE FALLS- You Won a BMW!!!!
One resident of The Falls reports having received 2 phone calls in the past 3 months from someone with an accent telling them that they were fortunate to win a BMW and several million dollars. The homeowner had not entered any contest and knew it was a scam and hung up the phone. If you receive a call like this hang up then call 911, especially if you can provide a phone number from your Caller ID.
AARP WATCHDOG ALERT- Online Dating and Romance Scams
Just before Valentine’s Day the AARP Fraud Watch Network (http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/) issued the following alert about online dating and romance scams. While Valentine’s Day is past, its warning is still beneficial for singles who use online dating services.
Signs your Valentine is a scammer
Romance cons are big business, costing an average loss of more than $10,000 per victim in the U.S. Scammers know how to make a connection, tailoring their sweet talk to their victim’s responses.
How does it work?
You think you’ve found your perfect partner online. Once they’ve gained your trust, they ask for money or your personal information — leaving you with an empty bank account, and a broken heart.
Sweetheart scams can happen on a dating site or via "catfishing" on social media, where Internet predators fabricate elaborate online identities to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships over a long period of time. See the story of a San Jose woman who was duped out of $500,000 in one such online scam (http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/01/15/san-jose-woman-duped-out-of-500k-in-nigerian-online-dating-scam/).
What are the signs?
• First comes instalove: Your new friend immediately moves the conversation to email or instant messaging — and just as quickly falls in love.
• Long distance romance: They say they’re from your town, but are currently out of the country. Emergencies keep you apart when making plans to meet in person.
• Money, honey: Then come the asks for help with travel fees; a child or other relative’s hospital bills; expenses while a big business deal comes through; or recovery from a temporary setback.
How do I protect myself?
• Do some digging, including an image search of the profile photo used on the dating site, and consider a background check if you aren’t finding any information.
• Don’t mix friends and finance. Do not give credit card or financial account details, or personal identifying information (e.g., Social Security number) to anyone you don’t know and trust.
What should I do if I’m a victim?
• Break off contact immediately.
• Do not send any more money.
• Report to:
○ the website or chat room operator
○ local police
○ the Internet Crime Complaint Center (http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx)
○ the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
This is a message from AARP Washington, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau. If you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft or fraud, you can contact the AARP Foundation Fraud Fighter Center at 1-800-646-2283 for help