By Ann Thiermann
I think (that most of us) would like to give if they have the resources and we are often asked to donate to a variety of causes. My friend Rosie told me a story about her retired aunt living in Arizona.
Last year, she was called and asked to donate to a girl’s school. She donated $30. A couple weeks later, she received another call and was told the “school” was a scam and the caller wanted to get the money transferred back to her account.
The woman gave them some more personal information that she was asked for and shortly there after, her whole retirement had been (transferred over) to this scammer. She had to borrow money from her neighbor to pay her rent… and was ashamed to tell her family what happened.
I was called about an offer for Apple Support in January (and) signed up for a 5-year warranty (for) $400. The money was charged on my Visa and went through the Apple Store. Even though Apple listed this as fraud, neither Visa nor I were alerted. In March I was contacted again and this time scammed in a much larger way.
Using all the mistakes I made here are the warnings:
- Check the return e-mail address from the sender. Even if the e-mail looks legitimate, check the sender’s e-mail. My scammers totally imitated Apple E-mail.
- Make a list of your providers correct e-mails: i.e. Visa card, apple support.
- Never share your computer screen, or phone with un-validated sources.
- Ask for the phone number of the caller and tell them you’ll call them back.
- Ask how much of your donation goes to administration of their cause.
- Never offer to pay an organization with I-Tune Gift Cards, that is direct money from your checking account and a current rampant scam, especially with Apple.
- Check spelling on e-mail… if there is anything amiss, do not respond.
- Never accept a call that says “We see there’s something wrong with your piece of equipment,”… you must always be the one to call for service!
- Trust your intuition. If you’re busy, just say you’ll call back. If you feel any bit queasy about the call, hang up. Scammers are very sophisticated and will play on your guilt, and your distraction.
- If money is transferred to your account from an outside source, always go to your bank and investigate to be sure that (the money) hasn’t just been transferred from another of your accounts. My scammer’s payback was actually money transferred from another of my accounts and although I changed my login the very next day, within a week, the scammers were again trying to hack into my account.
- Do a thorough cleanup of your computer through Apple or a local computer store to eliminate viruses in flash drives, and any hidden “sharing” platforms. It took the real apple support three times to thoroughly cleanup all shared possibilities.
- Find a safe place to keep your passwords not on your computer
- If you have an online banking option, consider just typing in your password each time.
- Make a police report right away.
- Don’t be ashamed. The local sheriff (831 454-7620) in Rancho Del Mar, came to my house and took the report and said 20 incidents of this similar scenario are happening every day in Santa Cruz and he had also been scammed through pay-pal.
- Check your credit reports for free: Equifax 888 2024025, Transunion 800 916 8800, Experian 888 397 3742.