Protect Yourself Against Phone Scams

AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN. I was reading the paper this morning and came across the following article:

Fast-Moving Utility Scam Arrives in State

Heads up: President Obama is not offering to pay your utility bills this month.

A scam that has taken in tens of thousands of victims in other states in recent weeks has just swept into Minnesota, according to the Better Business Bureau and an MSNBC report.

The deception, spread by telephone, word of mouth, social media and door-to-door, claims the government has launched a grant program to cover utility bills.

People are directed to call a number, provide a routing number and personal information such as a Social Security number. In some cases, victims receive a false confirmation that a bill has been paid on their behalf, the BBB said.

Meanwhile, scammers have just acquired victims’ personal information.

From Minneapolis Star Tribune – the Whistleblower Blog
Posted by: Jane Friedmann
Updated: July 9, 2012 – 5:44 PM
http://www.startribune.com/local/blogs/161851865.html#

Kris Maser Attorney at Law

Our office spends a fair amount of time lecturing and educating our clients on scams that affect our community. We talk about the Nigerian connection, the knock off reader’s digest scam, the grandchild caught with no money in Mexico calls, the hot investments sold over the phone, the get rich quick business ventures, the charities that are not charities callers, and now we have this, a scam that claims that the government has a grant program to cover utilities.

This scam comes at a time when we are all well aware of the problems that the local, state and federal governments have with deficits. I will say this again – if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.

Please protect yourself by:

1) Think first: Does it sound too good to be true? Then be wary!

2) Install caller ID on your phone and do not pick the phone up unless you know the number that shows up on the screen.

3) Get an answering device on the phone and listen to the caller before picking up the phone. If the caller really needs to talk to you let them leave a message. You can listen to the message and call back if it is someone you know.

4) DO NOT GIVE PERSONAL INFORMATION OUT OVER THE PHONE OR TO ANYONE YOU DO NOT KNOW.

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