Are you a resident of southeast Idaho? Do you still use a landline phone like it’s 1998? If so, you might be a target of one of the several scams going around the area! But what are these scams and how can you, the concerned citizen, keep yourself safe?
The Pocatello Police Department said in a press release that 47 area citizens have fallen victim to the scams in the final quarter of 2010 alone. Most victims either sent money or gave out account information over the phone or email. In one recent scam, the caller will threaten the victim with revocation of the victims’ Medicare Part B insurance if you don’t immediately provide your bank account information for payment. They then proceed to steal a bunch of money from your account.
In another scam, a caller claims to have an opportunity for a large federal grant for college. The caller tells the victim to wire $250 by Western Union to apply for the grant, but once the money is wired, it can’t be traced and the victim, obviously, never receives the grant.
Dianne Brush, a community services specialist with the PPD, said potential victims need to just avoid giving any money or account information regardless of what the caller says. “Consumers need to remain vigilant in protecting their Medicare numbers, bank account numbers and other personal information,” she said in a press release. “Don’t ever give out your bank account information, social security number, or credit card number out over the phone or email unless you initiate the contact.”
Medicare officials have said they will never ask for payment in unsolicited calls and education grants generally aren’t given by unsolicited calls either. Brush said there’s a very simple rule of thumb to avoid scams like these: “If it appears too good to be true, it probably is fraud.”