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HomeLiar Liar - crooks, cons and scams

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!  Crooks, Cons, and Scams

There are lots of rotten people trying to get your money.  Here are are few ways they do it.

"Your Checking Account Has Been Frozen"

You receive a text or an email telling you that your checking account has been frozen because of "suspicious activity."  The text or email may have a link to click or a number to call.  Or you may get a call from a nice person who offers to sort things out for you. Don't respond!  They're crooks, after your account information and your money. 

Here's what to do (and not do!):
  • Do not click on a link in the email or text
  • Do not call the number in the  email or text.
  • If you receive a call, say, "Wrong number" and hang up.  Don't pick up if they call back.
  • If you are worried your account really was frozen, call the phone number on your bank statement or the back of your debit card - not the one in the message.

Hacked Emails

A number of Village members have recently received emails that appear to be from hacked or spoofed (made to look like it came from a legitimate source) email accounts of other Village members.

There are many versions but here are two recent examples: One asks a favor - to get a gift card for a fictitious friend or relative. Another asks you to view or download a document, using your email password.

If you receive a suspicious or uncharacteristic email apparently from someone you know, do not click on any links or attachments. They may be a way of verifying your email address or installing malware on your computer. Check that the email address of the sender is correct, since sometimes malicious emails can be from addresses that are close but not 100% correct. And never respond to an email that asks for any of your passwords.

If you have the least doubt, call the person that supposedly sent you the email.
It is also recommended to have good antivirus/anti-malware software installed. Two free products that have recently been highly rated by PC Magazine are AVAST and Kaspersky.

If your email has been hacked, you should change your password. If your password has been reset by the hacker, notify your email provider to reset your account.

Grandson (or other relative) in Trouble.

This one is the worst, run by soulless scum.  You get a call supposedly from your grandson (or maybe a cop or lawyer).  The caller knows a bit about the person (probably from reading Facebook or Instagram pages), and tells a tale of woe, asking for money.

What do you do?  The simplest is to say, "I left something burning on the stove," then pick up your cell phone and call your actual grandson, who will be fine. 
Probably nothing the police can do about it, but you can call 9-1-1.  Tell the creep that that's what you're doing anyway.

Phone call from Microsoft (no it's not)

A ‘kindly’ support person claiming to be from Microsoft may call you up to tell you that you’ve got an internet or other computer problem; if you don’t fix it (with their help), your computer will ‘crash down.’ Remember the rule: Don’t respond! HANG UP! Microsoft doesn’t call people out of the blue. It’s a scam. Always be suspicious of calls like this.

Pop-up Warning on your computer (it's not from Microsoft either)

You may (especially if you don’t have security software) get a pop-up screen telling you that you have a problem.  Don't click on the button; it will install malicious software on your computer.  Don't call the phone number if there is one.  You will NEVER get such a message from Microsoft; such messages are usually “spoofs” or otherwise fraudulent attempts to get you to do something or call someone.

Fake IRS Calls

We're used to the usual phone scams, but there's one that can be scary.  If you get a call supposedly from the IRS, threatening legal action, just hang up!  Don't call back if it's a recording.  Don't try to argue if it's a live person.  If the IRS has an issue with you, they'll send a letter.  They won't call demanding that you send money by Western Union or by Visa prepaid card.

Fake Social Security Calls

What if you get a call from the Social Security Administration?  Your Caller ID says it's them, and they sound legitimate.  They'll tell you that you won't get benefits, or that you owe money, or some such.  Hang up!  The crooks are faking the Social Security number and trying to get your personal information--maybe your Social Security number, bank information or whatever they can get you to reveal.  What if someone comes to your door?  Call 9-1-1.

Not sure? Call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213

Be Sure Before You Open the Door

If someone claiming to be a utility worker shows up with no appointment, no ID, and no truck, call 9-1-1.   Not sure?  Call 9-1-1 anyway. The dispatcher will check with the utilitiesClick here for a short video about this program.

No More Mister Nice Guy!

The most heartless scams are those that take advantage of our better nature.  If someone knocks on your door or calls your phone with a hard-luck story, it's almost certainly a scam.  There's a terrible variation - pretending that they've kidnapped your grandchild.  Pick up your cell phone and call your grandchild to be sure, then call 9-1-1.

Just remember, you are not obligated to be nice to crooks. Don't politely hear them out. Don't try to figure out if they're sincere; they're experts in telling one convincing lie after another.  Just say, "I'm sorry, I can't help you," and shut the door or hang up.  If they persist or become abusive, just call 9-1-1.