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Scams come in all shapes and sizes!

Scams come in all shapes and sizes and are aimed at different sorts of

potential victims.

The common wisdom is that it’s elderly folks who are most affected, but actually the statistics show that twice as many people ages 20 to 29 lost money to fraud in 2020 as did those from 70 to 79 years old.

Regardless, money is too tight for most of us to lose it to unscrupulous schemers out to make a fast buck!

That’s why we at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor like to give you a reminder from time to time just how to avoid being scammed!

Tips to avoid scams

The Federal Trade Commission has some succinct information on how to avoid scams. In addition, the commission lists some of the current scams to watch out for on their website at

The following information, comes from their brochure, “How to Avoid a Scam.” This brochure lists four signs that something is a scam:

1. Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know.

2. Scammers say there is a problem or a prize.

3. Scammers pressure you to act immediately.

4. Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way.

Pretend to be from a familiar organization.

Often scammers will pretend to be from a familiar organization such as the IRS, Medicare or Social Security. (Who hasn’t gotten a fake call from Microsoft, Amazon or Visa?) Alternatively, they will make up a name that is very close to an official name – especially for charities.

Nowadays with the leaps in technology, people have the ability to create professional looking ads on the internet, sophisticated websites and Facebook pages and printed flyers from their home computers. Also, it’s also easy for scammers to manipulate the phone system so that the number that appears on your caller ID is not really the person calling you.

A problem or prize

The FTC lists the second sign of a scam as that someone reaches out to you saying there’s a problem or promising a prize.

Maybe you’ve gotten a call that the IRS says you owe money, your grandson is in jail and needs money to get out, or perhaps your credit card has had a large purchase or your computer has a virus.

They tell you that you have a problem with a bill or a bank and ask you to “verify” information. Then, skillfully during that process, the scammer actually tricks you into giving them information.

Often others will say you’ve won money in some sort of contest, lottery or sweepstakes, but you need to pay a fee to get it.

Think about it! If someone is giving you money, for starters you’d remember that you entered the contest. Secondly if they can part with a computer, a week in Hawaii or the $50,000 cash, they can deal with the handling and shipping fees! Why would you ever have to pay a fee to get a prize!?

Pressure to act quickly

While sometimes a legitimate salesperson will pressure you to make a decision to close the deal, typically you will have time to think it over, call a friend, etc.

But scammers put pressure on you to act immediately because they don’t want you to talk it over with someone or give you time to check them out with a friend or online. They want that credit card information, social security number or bank identification numbers now so they can quickly get to work before the alarm bells start going off in your head!

One particularly nasty approach is that they might even threaten to arrest you, deport you, take away your driver’s license, etc. Now that’s really playing dirty!

Pay a certain way

The fourth sign of a scam listed by the Federal Trade Commission’s information is that scammers often tell you to pay in a specific way.

“They often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back,” the brochure says.

Another classic way is that they will send you a big check for you to deposit and then ask you to send them money. The trick is that their check will turn out to be a fake and the method they instructed you to send them money will have worked and you will be out your money.

Be on the lookout for these

One of the recent scams appears to be coming from, well, you! Have you been one of the many receiving a text from what appears to be your own cell phone number?

What’s happened is that someone is using your curiosity as to why or how you would text yourself so that you will at least click the links – and maybe even provide them information to further scam you.

Another very popular scamming technique right now is stealing the identity of people who are trying to get a job.

Online employment sites, or work-from-home opportunities can be real or they can be simply fishing for information from you.

Perhaps, they say, you resume looks great and you now have that job. They need you to fill out your birthday and social security number so that you can get paid – or rather, so they can, by stealing your identity!

Other common scams tend to be grouped around paying off student loans or any kind of debt, or giving to a charity that has a name very close to a real one. In addition, most of us do a lot of purchasing online nowadays. Sometimes, especially if you link through a social media site, where you end up “purchasing” from isn’t where you think it is. The website that looks a lot like a legitimate one can be one keystroke different but cause you headaches for months to try to untangle it all.

Even some “legitimate” health and beauty products, online subscriptions, etc., can make it difficult to unsubscribe to a point that it is clearly part of their business model.

For that, make sure to keep a list of what monthly subscriptions you have, how much they cost, and exactly what you need to do to unsubscribe.

That’s it for this week. Buyer beware! And like your parents taught you, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!



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