It’s the most wonderful time of the year! However, it is also a very active time of the year for con men and scam artists. There seems to be no limit to the creative ways they devise to prey on the unsuspecting. If you think all scam artists look and sound sleazy, you might want to reconsider that line of thinking. The bad guys will present such a friendly, warm and generous image that it will be very difficult to discern their real mission – separating you from your money.
Here are some things that you should keep in mind whenever you’re dealing with strangers:
- Be wary. Con artists depend upon your good nature. Whether it’s a friendly passerby who distracts you from your gardening while an accomplice quietly slips inside your house, or a sincere voice on the telephone offering you the deal-of-the-century, the first rule is to be skeptical!
- Be skeptical. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always refuse prizes that require you to make a purchase before you can claim them.
- Be reserved. Never give private information to strangers. All a crook needs to make unauthorized purchases is your credit card number and expiration date. Be careful about giving our your credit card, bank account or Social Security numbers to strangers who telephone or come to your door.
- Be sensible. Never invest in anything that requires you to act immediately or that requires you to give the person cash.
- Be cautious. Anyone who comes to your door unannounced has no right to expect an invitation into your home. The best advice is to turn all unsolicited salespeople away. In the case of utility workers, have them wait outside while you look up the telephone number for the utility (don’t call the number they give you) and call to make certain the company has dispatched an employee to your area.
- Be responsible. Con men and scam artists rely on you feeling too dumb or ashamed to file a police complaint. Prove them wrong! If you suspect you’re the victim of a scam, call the police at once, so that you can help eliminate a criminal from your community and possibly save many others from becoming victims too.