A Few Reminders for the Fall About Scams


by Anne Kent Gibson *

Now that the summer is over and we’re settling back down in front of our technology for the winter, at least some of the time to do some holiday shopping,  a few reminders, brought to you by the idiots trying to scam me via email or my cell phone:

  1. Customs and Border Patrol doesn’t call you at your home to discuss payment for a package in Mexico or anywhere else for that matter. Don’t give the CBP money over the phone. CBP Warns of Telephone Scam has more information.
  2. If you don’t remember spending $300+ for virus software, that’s because you didn’t. If you don’t remember buying a Geek Squad membership, that’s because you didn’t. Do not reply to email about “your computer’s defense subscription”, McAfee virus products, Norton virus products, etc. Fake Antivirus software and other antivirus scams explains how to spot these scams.
  3. Social Security doesn’t call people randomly. I mean seriously, wouldn’t it be nice if we had a government that had that kind of time? We don’t. Protect Yourself from Scams on the Social Security website tells you what to look out for.
  4. If anyone calls from your bank, your credit card company, your electric company, your water company, your cable company, or anyone else and asks you for a code that was just texted to you, hang up. Similarly, if you get a text message with a code and a robotic (or human) voice calls asking you to give them the code to “reverse fraud on your account” they’re actually trying to commit fraud on your account. Hang up. Don’t give out texted codes. Two-Factor Authentication Scams — What to Know explains how these scams work.
  5. There’s a new scam where people use computers to make a voice that sounds like it could be your adult child and then they tell you that your kid is in jail, and you need to send bail money. Hang up and call your kid directly — chances are they’re sitting on the sofa eating popcorn and have no idea what you’re talking about. Talk to your children (and/or your parents) about these scams. They thought loved ones were calling for help. It was an AI Scam at the Washington Post has more information.
  6. Don’t give people you don’t know money without running it by someone you trust. If you don’t want to talk it over with your spouse or your kids, talk to a bank manager (in the bank branch) or a financial advisor you trust, or the police. Don’t buy anyone bitcoin. Don’t buy anyone gift cards. (No, the IRS does not want you to pay a tax penalty in Visa gift cards!) Don’t visit the websites these folks send you to. Don’t give them your bank information, your passwords, your address, or anything else.

If you want more information on current scams and how to avoid them visit the Scams page on the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Advice site.

If you think you’ve been scammed already, visit the What To Do If You Were Scammed page on the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Advice site.

And if you have been scammed, don’t be afraid to tell someone. They are trying to scare you. Don’t get frightened, get angry. You’re not the criminal, you’re the victim! It’s only by working together that we can protect each other.   

*  anne m. gibson is a ux designer, freelance nonfiction writer, and general troublemaker just close enough to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to think a wander through a revolutionary battlefield is not noteworthy. She’s best known for writing about topics that help people live better lives, including An Alphabet of Accessibility for The Pastry Box and Reframing Accessibility for the Web for A List Apart. In addition to writing and designing websites, she writes science fiction and fantasy, runs a small publication about web design, researches pandemics, plays competitive pinball, and watches the Jack Russell terriers destroy things. anne graduated from Boyertown Area Senior High (BASH) in 1994.

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