Can you spot a con artist or con game? Most of us think we can—that we're too smart to fall victim to one of the leading crimes in our country today.
The sad reality is, generally it's not that easy. Con artists rob all kinds of people of millions of dollars every year. Cons, scams, and frauds attempt to victimize us with false promises of miracle cures, financial security, and fabulous prizes. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Follow these tips to help prevent you from becoming a victim.
- Never give a caller your Social Security Number, credit card information, bank account number, or phone card over the phone. It's illegal for telemarketers to ask for these types of numbers to verify a prize or gift.
- Beware of 900 numbers. If you call a 900 number to claim a "prize," you might end up paying for the call. Understand all charges prior to making the call.
- Don't allow an aggressive con artist to pressure you into making a quick decision. Demand information in writing by mail. Also, get a second opinion. Ask family, friends, and/or neighbors what they think about the offer.
- You have the right and the power to say NO. If the caller makes you wary, be assertive and end the conversation. They often prey on the trusting, polite nature of people and the excitement over receiving a prize or bargain. You can prevent a crime and financial loss by saying no and hanging up the phone.
- Don't buy health products or treatments that promise quick cures or a single product that cures many illnesses.
- Look closely at offers that come in the mail. Con artists often use official-looking forms and language. You are not obligated to respond to an offer you did not initiate.
- If you have lost a loved one and you receive a call asking for payment for something they ordered or purchased prior to their death, do not make payment until investigating.
- Beware of cheap home repair work especially if it is initiated by door-to-door soliciting. The con artist may do an incomplete job, use less than appropriate materials and untrained workers, or simply take your deposit and never return. Never pay with cash. Never accept offers from someone who "just happened to be in the neighborhood." Always check their credentials, work history, and licenses prior to contracting services.
- If someone rips you off or you detect a fraud or con game, report the contact with police, the consumer protection office, and/or the District Attorney's office.
- Don't be embarrassed to make the call. Very few frauds are reported, which leaves the con artist free to victimize others.
What To Do if You are a Victim of a Theft or Lose Your Purse or Wallet
- Cancel credit cards immediately – keep account numbers and toll free numbers handy.
- File a police report immediately to prove diligence on your part.
- Call the three national credit-reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security Number:
- Equifax 1-800-525-6285
- Experian (formerly TRW) 1-800-301-7195
- Trans Union 1-800-680-7289
- Social Security Administration fraud line 1-800-269-0271
APD Crime Prevention 924-3600