At our Brown Bag luncheon on October 19th, we were privileged to have Karen McMullin, Investor Education Coordinator, Division of Securities for the State of Utah as our speaker. Karen was a font of interesting information, education and insight into the world of scamming and deception to which each of us is exposed every day. Though you, personally, may not have been scammed, statistics indicate someone known to you has been. A scammer is out to obtain one thing and that is your personal information. Karen reviewed the most usual types of scams employed to accomplish this.
IMPOSTER SCAMS: Through a call or email, you may be told you have won something or, the caller, having obtained personal information from social media, may impersonate someone you know, such as a grandchild, in order to get you to wire money to pay taxes or fees. NEVER wire money because it cannot be tracked. Also know that the "real" IRS never seeks payment by telephone.
CHARITY FRAUD: Someone calls and says they represent a charity, the name of which may sound familiar, and pressure you to donate money but may refuse specific details of how it will be used. Do not promise money until you have had time to research the validity of the request. Stick with legitimate charities, which must be registered with the State of Utah.
HEALTH CARE SCAMS: Health Care scammers intent on obtaining Social Security numbers are especially active in the Fall during Medicare open season or when health care is in the news. People may feel obligated to give personal information in order to "comply" with supposed regulations. Check it out before sharing information!
PAYING TOO MUCH: Keep close track of unusual charges on your bills, especially those for fees or services. Be sure costs have not been escalated improperly and never hesitate to try negotiating for a lowering of ongoing charges or interest rates. Research credentials and references of any contractors employed to work for you.
"YOU'VE WON" SCAMS: The old "you're a winner" trick -- You may be told you have won something but must pay a fee to receive it and then are asked for your credit card number to make this happen. Either way, you don't win. You only lose!
Karen spoke about the EQUIFAX breech and referred us to the Utah government site: IDTHEFT.utah.gov. to learn about our credit standings and be directed to the proper sources for information. You may also call Division of Securities at 801-530-6600, for personal answers to specific questions. A packet of pertinent material, including a list of Dept. of Commerce regulating agencies and their contact information, is available by calling either Mitzi Rak (435-674-1204) or Alicia Kitzman (435-272-4614). The list and some of Karen's handouts can also be found here. Bottom Line - you can never be too cautious or protective of your personal information. Never give out your Social Security number or banking information to a stranger. And - If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!!
You can listen to the audio of Karen's presentation here.