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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.
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 called 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 IRS CallsFake IRS Calls
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 utilities. Click 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.