This headline is certainly not news, but within a span of five minutes, I received two separate “scam warnings”.
The first, while written with a tongue firmly planted in the author’s cheek, noted that an email scammer sent a “warning” to my friend that her email address was about to expire. By clicking on a link and paying a fee, the recipient could retain the email address. The irony is that this email was sent to a friend who is a consumer fraud specialist with the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office and whose email address ends with ncdoj.gov. Not certain who is lower on the IQ scale, the scammer or their intended targets, but the sad reality is that the intended targets who fall prey to such schemes are often not deficient in terms of IQ, but either are unsophisticated or suffering from some form of a diminished capacity. As my father followed the path into dementia, we had to monitor his email because he was such a “helper” by nature, he began to accept obvious schemes as real cries for financial assistance. Therefore, make certain that your loved ones are protected as best you can from these online scammers.
The second preys on people already in a bad place – those who have recently filed a bankruptcy petition. Telephone scammers in this case are calling individuals who have recently filed with the bankruptcy court. They are obtaining personal information which is required on bankruptcy petitions and posing as attorneys scaring the victim into believing it is necessary to immediately wire money in order to resolve a debt as part of the bankruptcy process. As with most of these fear-based phone scams related to potential legal actions, common sense should prevail. The legal system rarely moves at rocket speed and if someone is requiring “immediate” payment to prevent an action being taken against you (and in this case, immediate and non-reversible – money order, wire transfer) then yellow and red flags should fly.
Most folks who file bankruptcy do not fully understand the process and are fearful of making a misstep, so this type of scam preys on those fears. The test for all scams is the same. If someone initiates a call or email to you and asks for personal information, it is almost assuredly a scam. If they ask for immediate cash-equivalent funds to be sent by you, it is almost assuredly a scam. If you are unsure, you can test many of these out with a simple Google search of the phone number or email address. Or, you can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and make an inquiry. Just don’t send any money unless you are absolutely certain why you are sending it, who is receiving it and that the purpose is legitimate. If you are sending $5,000.00 so they can send you a million dollars, it is a scam.