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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Recognize the red flags of internet scams

May 15, 2019 04:00PM ● By Adam Cochran

I’ve had a lot of friends who’ve lost money by falling for scams.

There are countless ways to become a victim of a financial scam, but the most common scams require use of the internet.

This month, I’ll explain some red flags and clear indicators that you are being solicited by a scammer. Many scams may use more than one of these tactics, tools or processes.

Don’t ever wire money to a stranger in a foreign country. Wiring money involves sending money directly from your bank account to another entity without the use of a credit card. These transactions often involve a third party, such as Western Union.

No matter how safe or guaranteed you feel the process is, once you wire money to a stranger, you are at the mercy of the fine print involved in the transaction.

Anytime you deal with an overseas entity, you may be waving the protections ensured and insured by domestic banks and money transfer companies.

ALWAYS use a credit card online. If you’re one of those people who never use a credit card (or debit card endorsed by a credit card company) online, you may be forfeiting one of your greatest guarantees on a financial transaction.

All major credit card companies guarantee each transaction. This means you can file a complaint with the credit card company soon after you discover a transaction is shady and you’ll get your money back.

Never panic over a phone call or email. If you receive an email or phone call from an entity claiming that you owe money, relax. It’s likely a scam. This is especially true if the “entity” is the government. No company or government organization will ever threaten you with a non-negotiable 24-hour time limit to pay a fine or penalty on first notice, nor will they require you to pay via wire transaction or PayPal. They will always accept a debit card payment.

Never call the number or click on the link provided by the party asking for money. Most people know to call the entity or log in to the company that is asking for payment before they send payment. However, many people check the validity of the website or phone number by following the information provided in the email, phone call or letter.

Don't fall for it! Bad guys often set up fake websites, emails, and phone numbers connected to the scam. The back of your credit card has the phone number to call if you suspect a scam.

No one will ever call or email you because you have a virus or other computer problem. If you receive a phone call or email telling you that you have a virus on your computer, ignore it.

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