Con Artists Devising New & Devious Ways To Scam Idahoans
Con Artists – Devising New & Devious Ways To Scam IdahoansI
dentity theft, investment fraud and scams rob millions of Americans of their hard-earned money every year. According to the latest Javelin Strategy and Research reports on fraud, more than $20 billion is stolen annually from about 13 million victims. Older adults tend to lose about $3 billion every year.
Con artists use a myriad of scams to steal your hard-earned money, including phishing scams, tech-support scams, gold coin scams, oil and gas scams, sweepstakes and lottery scams, grandparent scams and many more. Although their methods are different, research shows that the tactics scammers use are the same.
When authorities ask convicted con artists to describe the trick to scamming people out of money, they all say the same thing: “Get them under the ether.” The ether is a heightened emotional state that makes it hard to think clearly and make rational decisions. Con artists ask questions that trigger an emotional response. Once they find something you care about that triggers emotions, they will “throttle up” on that trigger and get you to focus on it until you are in a heightened emotional state and ready to open your wallet.
Another tactic con artists use is making a personal connection with a potential victim. Scammers will develop a victim profile by asking a series of personal questions so they can find your emotional trigger. Once they wrap you in emotion that blurs your logic, they’ve endeared you to them and you begin to trust them.
Crooks also use a method they call “phantom riches” meaning something you want, but cannot have. The con artist will dangle that phantom in front of you in order to get your emotion up so you will make an impulsive decision. Researchers say this is the number one tactic found in undercover audiotapes of con pitches.
While it may seem overwhelming, there are ways you can protect yourself.
- Call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT or visit www.optoutprescreen.com to stop pre-approved credit card applications that a thief could steal and use to get credit in your name.
- To cut down on unwanted telemarketing calls, sign up for the Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222.
- Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
- You are entitled to one free credit report each year from each nationwide credit bureau. To get your free report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
- Check out a charity before donating to make sure they are legitimate at www.charitywatch.org or www.charitynavigator.org.
- Avoid using easily available information for your PINs or passwords such as your mother’s maiden name, birth date, phone number or a series of consecutive numbers.
- Hang up the phone. Most Idahoans are genuinely nice folks and it can feel awkward to hang up on someone, but do not let your “niceness” give a scammer any room to make a pitch.
These are just a few of the things you can do to help prevent fraud and identity theft. For additional tips and information visit www.aapr.org/fraudwatchnetwork.
Solutions happen when conversations begin. The more communities and individuals share their stories with friends and neighbors the more difficult it becomes for predators to take advantage of hard working Idahoans. And last but not least, if all else fails just remember, if it sounds too good to be true – it is.