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How to protect yourself from scammers

They're lurking around every corner!
Photo by chanpipat/

The National Consumers League says almost a third of all telemarketing fraud victims are age 60 or older. Computers also offer lucrative avenues for this type of criminal activity. Everyone is susceptible to all kinds of fraud and scams that put your hard-earned money into thieves’ pockets. Are there ways of protecting yourself from these crooks?

Often, scammers reach victims via email or social sites. Typically, they ask that you be at your computer so they can guide you through the steps and instructions for whatever it is you “need.” There are several tactics you can take to keep from falling for these schemes.

Your first line of defense is to add your phone number(s) to “do not call registries.” However, that’s not foolproof. Unfortunately, anyone with whom you’ve ever done any type of business can legally share or sell your personal information to others.

Your defense against this is to contact or go to every website possible to find what their privacy policies are, and if you have any control over them. Many have limited “opt-out” programs.

If you get calls from unrecognizable toll-free numbers (often with unavailable information about who is calling or the origination of it), it’s probably a telemarketing company or scammer. There are several things you can do.

Advise them you’re registered on a “do not call” list and their call is breaking the law. Alternatively, say you have a shatterproof policy that you don’t ever buy anything over the phone. Furthermore, declare you’re not the person whom they’re calling.

There are things you can do if you have time and want to create a little fun at their expense. Some of these tactics will keep them on the phone longer.

Pretend you don’t speak English. Miss-understand everything they tell you to do. Alternatively, give them bogus information, and/or ask for their company information (name, registration, license(s) etc.)

A quick way to get rid of them is to pick up the phone and say something like, “International Telephone Fraud Department…please hold while we trace your call.” Other fast resolutions are to tell them you have an Apple Mac computer; you work for the FBI; or just hang up.

Remember, these crooks want to outwit you to get their hands on your hard-earned money. They will lie, cheat, and steal in order to do so. Don’t allow that to happen.

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