None of us want to be an easy target for scammers.
I was on vacation in early July, and one of my assistants called to see if I had written a check to someone for $9,700. The bank receiving the deposit called us. We had not written the check, the check fraud was foiled, and, thus far, no prosecution has taken place. This is aggravating and all too common. The bank needs to pursue the criminal, and law enforcement in this arena is disorganized.
There was a time when all you had to do to stay safe was to lock your doors at night. People now feel besieged on all sides from crooks who try to scam them out of their life savings. Experts tell us to create strong passwords, refrain from posting personal information on social media, and shred our mail before tossing it into the trash. However, did you know you might have personality traits that can make scammers target you?
You cannot change who you are, but if you fall within one of these categories, you might want to be aware you have a target painted on your back for scammers:
- Friendly people. Some of us simply want to believe the best of everyone, until we see clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. Someone sends you a friend request on social media. Outgoing person you are, you think, Oh, I have never known anyone in that country. You love making new friends, so you accept the friend request. Many scams start with friend requests from strangers. You should only accept requests from people you already know in real life. The rule used to be “Don’t accept candy from strangers.” The new rule should be “Don’t accept friend requests from strangers.”
- You are on the naughty list. Not really. But if you have fallen victim to a con artist already, you are on the “victim list.” Crooks compile victims lists and sell them to other scammers or organized crime. Once hit, the fraudulent phone calls and emails will likely increase.
- Lonely people. The song lyric that says, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world” does not apply to scammers. If you feel isolated from your family or do not have many friends, you are at risk of being a victim of crooks who prey on lonely people by pretending to be interested in a relationship. Once the thieves gain your trust with their fake friendliness, they will ask you for money, gift cards, and other assets.
- You respect authority. There is nothing wrong with having appropriate respect for authority. However, con artists impersonate police officers, court representatives, IRS agents, and other people in positions of power to threaten and scare people into sending them money. If you get a phone call from a government office demanding immediate payment of money, hang up. The government does not engage in this kind of behavior. For your peace of mind, call the actual government office and ask if they called you about money owed.
- You are in denial. Many people go through life believing bad things will never happen to them. They think they are too smart to get fooled, or only other people get suckered by thieves. As a result, they do not take sensible precautions to prevent identity theft and other frauds. Remember that no one is immune to crooks. Even top officials at government agencies that investigate and prosecute con artists get phone calls and emails from fraudsters. The con games also constantly change because the thieves are creative.
If you feel something is too good to be true, it probably is. We all need to be more alert to avoid being an easy target for scammers.
AARP. “7 Behaviors That Can Make You a Target for Scammers.” (accessed June 20, 2019) https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2019/vulnerable-to-fraud.html