DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Welden said his office has received multiple calls “about scams targeting the elderly.”
Scammers send a message thru Facebook, Facebook messenger or e-mail, but it will appear to be from a user’s list of friend friends.
“The friends accounts have been hacked and the victim’s receive messages that they have won money but have to pay the taxes on the winning amount,” Welden said.
“We have multiple victim’s send payment for alleged taxes to fraudulent overseas accounts. Please talk to your family members and make them aware that this is a scam and any taxes owed would be paid directly to the I.R.S.”
Welden said an honest organization will not call, text or e-mail asking for any kind of personal information.
“If you get an e-mail or a text asking you to click on a link and you think it is legit, please call that company (from a phone number you look up, not one they provide to you) BEFORE you click on anything.”
Welden encourages everyone to talk to their loved ones.
“Please encourage them to never give out any kind of personal information unless they know exactly who they are talking with,” he said.
Identity theft and fraud cause upwards of $17 Billion dollars in losses every year, affecting close to 1-in-20 Americans. This number jumps to almost 1-in-10 in November and December.
There are signs that you may be a victim to watch for and ways to safeguard yourself to help prevent the theft of your personal information.
Identity theft can occur any time your personal information is stolen. The information may include your address and phone number, your social security number, bank or loan account numbers and user names and passwords. This information can then be used to acquire bank and credit card accounts, establish utility services and even to get a home mortgage. There are several techniques criminals employ attempting to access your sensitive information.
“Phishing” is an attempt to trick you into disclosing personal information. Usually, you’ll receive an unsolicited e-mail, phone call appearing to be from an organization you recognize asking you to verify personal or financial information.
“Pharming” uses software to steal your personal information. When you attempt to log on to a legitimate site, the software redirects you to a dummy site made to authentically look like the site you are trying to reach. The bogus site then allows criminals to capture the personal information you enter to use access your accounts to then make online purchases, cash transfers and more. Pharming is highly sophisticated and extremely difficult to detect.
Other techniques criminals employ to get the information they need are stealing account statements, pre-approved credit offers, checks or tax information directly from your mailbox. They can pose as someone who has the authority to obtain your credit report, dig through your home trash for important papers or ATM tampering and fraud such as shoulder surfing, or using devices such as card skimmers or keypad alterations.
There are ways to protect yourself from these scams by being vigilant.
• Any time you receive unsolicited requests or offers via email, a pop-up message or a phone call that askes for personal information to be verified, treat it with suspicion. Call the organization directly to inquire if they needed the information.
• To avoid a paper trail, take advantage of secure online bill-pay services.
• When shopping online, always look for indicators like “https” or a closed padlock in the bottom of your browser and avoid those pages without them.
Also try to do your shopping on a wired internet connection as wireless connections are more vulnerable.
• Use a firewall and updated antivirus and antispyware software.
• Review your account statements and verify all the transactions are legitimate.
• Take advantage of your free annual credit report so you can review it for incorrect or fraudulent activity.
• Minimize the amount of items you carry in your wallet or purse that contain personal information in case they are lost or stolen.
• Shred personal financial documents and unused credit or debit cards before disposing of them.
• Use longer and more complex passwords
• Never disclose your PIN or password to anyone for any reason.
There are signs you should watch out for that may indicate you have been a victim.
If you receive any of the following, act as soon as possible to prevent further damage and to make sure any fraudulent activity is removed.
• Unsolicited credit cards, a denial of credit letter, or less favorable credit terms than you usually receive.
• Missing bills or statements that you usually receive by mail
• Telephone calls from collection agencies for debt you did not incur.
If you think you may be the victim of any form of financial fraud or identity theft, first, be sure to directly contact any financial institutions to freeze the accounts.
After that report all violations to the three major credit bureaus.
• Experian 888-397-3742
• Equifax 800-525-6285
• TransUnion 800-680-7289