Lately, we have had several customers who reported they were the target of fraud and we’d like to share some details of these attacks in hopes of preventing other fraud victims. Some customers have been receiving calls from people claiming to be from the IRS and said they were asked to provide personal information like social security numbers, credit card or bank account numbers, and so forth in order to pay off a debt to the IRS. The IRS will only contact you through the mail, so anyone who calls you on your cell or home phone or through email and says they are from the IRS is trying to defraud you.
We have also had reports of customers falling victim to a computer repair scam. Customers see a window pop up while browsing the internet that states their computer is infected and they need to call a number or follow a link to repair it. Once the customer follows these instructions, the “repair technician” requests a credit card number and other personal information, and also may install software on your computer that gives them access to your personal information. We do not currently offer a service that allows technicians to remote in to your computer and repair it, so any of these types of warnings you may see are not coming from us and should not be followed. If you have any questions about fraudulent services like these and whether your computer is at risk, you are encouraged to call our 24-7 Internet Help Desk at 866-881-2251.
If you have fallen victim to a scam like these and have given out personal information, you should first call your bank or credit card company immediately and let them know that your personal information has been compromised and your account is at risk. You should also file a police report as soon as possible, especially if money has been taken from your account. Theft is theft, it doesn’t matter if it was done in person or over a computer. Another step you should take is filing a report of the scam with the Federal Trade Commission. They are working to crack down on scammers and information from people like you is their best weapon. Complaints can be reported to the FTC by clicking this link: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1 . Since one of your best defenses against being victimized by fraud is education, a good resource for in-depth descriptions of known scams and other consumer information about fraud is http://www.fraud.org/ .
We want you all to be aware that these scams are happening to people in our area, and remind you that you should never give out personal information to an untrusted source. The people on the other end of the phone will use any tactic they can to get you to give them the info they’re seeking, including fear, confusion, intimidation, distraction, misdirection, and false urgency. They especially target older folks who may not be as familiar with newer technology and the advanced scam capabilities that come with it. Do not be embarrassed if you have fallen victim to a scammer; they work hard to be convincing enough to get you to go along with them. We’ve heard from customers who were convinced to wire money to scammers posing as their grandchildren, so they can certainly do a good job of preying upon others. You have nothing to be ashamed of; they’re the problem, not you. If you have a feeling that a transaction isn’t honest or if anything seems off about a request you may get, trust that feeling. If you think that you’ve given out information to a fraudulent source, take the necessary steps to protect yourself. Scammers will only go away if we all work together to keep them from being successful. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call for more information.