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Avoid This Common Scam

There’s a common phishing scam circulating whereby scammers send emails to potential victims that look like receipts for purchases they did not make. The scammers are hoping to lure and trick victims into contacting them to correct the purchase “error.” In some cases, potential victims are asked to click a link to verify whether they made the purchase. Or they may be asked to supply or confirm credit card numbers. THIS IS A SCAM. Scammers often use familiar company names such as Amazon, iPhone, PayPal, or well-known credit card companies like Visa, Mastercard, or American Express, to trick people. Should you receive an email stating that you purchased something that you did not, it’s probably a scam. Be cautious and consider some of the following steps:

  1. Do not open a suspect email. Double check the address of the sender to see if it is legitimate by hovering over the name of the sender. Do not open the body of the email. Note that you can often tell if an email is from an “unofficial” source if the email address is quirky and is not identical to the main one used by the company for correspondence.
  2. If you accidentally open a suspect email, never click or open links as they may harm your computer. If you open an email and realize it’s junk or spam, close the email and put it into your spam folder. To do so, using your mouse, right click on the unopened email and the mark as spam option should appear. Click it to direct the email into your spam folder. It will also automatically mark other messages from that same sender as spam.
  3. If you happen to open the email and note a generic greeting such as Dear Sir or Madam, spot misspellings or the awkward use of language, note that it is likely a scam. Here is an example of a scam:

Dear Sir,

We note you account overdrawn, and you made purchase of six gooses. Click link below and send credit card information to company or we will charge you account double. Thank you for you time.

This email has a generic opening and is fraught with errors. Note that scammers will often sneak a threat in there (in this case we will charge you double) to scare or motivate victims into action. Legitimate companies do not make such demands on their customers.

  • If you are being asked to supply information such as your credit card info. – do not reply. Think about it and use your brain. A company that says you made an order that you didn’t should not request additional payment information from you. They should already have that information in their system. Thus, it is a red alert of a scam.
  • Always guard your personal information and do not give it out in an email or by phone. If you are concerned about an order, believing  you may have been charged for something you did not buy, separately check your bank account. If no charges went through for a purchase you didn’t make, then the sender of the email is likely a scammer. Ignore the email and simply move it to spam.
  • Scammers want you to engage with them and they will attempt to trick you into doing it. Never call back numbers or use any of the contact information they provide in a suspicious email. If you need to contact a company, look up the contact information yourself. For example, if you get an email claiming to be from your credit card company, do not call back the number on the email. Rather, look up a legitimate number yourself and call them directly with your questions. If by chance you did divulge information to a scammer – contact the company and the FTC to report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov and take steps to protect your personal information. Also visit consumer.ftc.gov to gain tips and learn how to avoid scams. Victims should also report thefts to their local police department.

It’s easy to feel frazzled when bombarded with emails that claim you purchased things that you didn’t. However, note that these are usually scams targeted at mass audiences. The scammers are hoping to make email recipients nervous and draw them in. By staying cool, calm, and collected and not chomping at the bit to reply or share information, you can avoid potential and serious problems. Senior citizens are often targeted for scams. Thus, if they believe someone may be trying to take advantage of them, they should be forthright in requesting advice from trusted professionals or family advisors who have their best interests at heart. And folks should spread the word so that everyone stays educated on scams.  Being wise and looking out for one another can prevent people from becoming victims of scams.

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6 months ago

This is an excellent article. We cannot afford to believe everything we read or hear on the phone.

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