Scams and fraud are two words that can create anxiety and fear. Even the possibility that people might scam you is scary, and it can be hard to imagine that people would take advantage of you. This fear can become a dilemma because you want to see the best in people, but you also want to protect yourself. One thing to remember is, not everyone is trying to take advantage of you or steal your money.
You Have the Power to Protect Yourself
The Larimer County Sheriff’s office reports that the most common scam locally is the IRS scam. These scammers play off your fear of getting in trouble by calling to say that if you do not give them money now, you will be arrested. It may feel safest to just make the payment, but it is recommended that you simply hang up and call your local police department. Remember, the IRS will not call you! They will send you a letter.
Screen Your Calls
If you do not recognize the number, do not answer it.
If the caller knows you or needs to talk to you, they will leave a message.
Right now, it is important to be on the lookout for charity scammers who come out of the woodwork after natural disasters like the recent hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida and the Caribbean Islands. Many of us want to do something to help those in need, so we often give money to organizations that can provide relief. Now, I am not saying not to donate money, but just to be careful to whom you are giving money.
Make sure the organization that you are giving to is legitimate.
Do not feel pressure to give money on the spot.
Pay by Check
A reputable organization will be happy to give you time to do your research. Feel free to ask for their charity registration number and the paid solicitor’s name. Always pay by check made out to the charity and do not give cash. Websites like Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) and Wise Giving Alliance (www.give.org) are resources you can use to check the reputation and authenticity of a charity. If you feel like you are being scammed, please call your local police department.
For more information on fraud and scams, please call the AARP ElderWatch at 800-222-4444.