Be smart, don’t fall for scam callers

What do you do when your phone rings and you don’t recognize the number?

In the old days, you probably answered it. These days, you’re better off not to and just wait to see if the caller leaves a voice mail. If not, it may have been a scam caller.

Con artists and thieves are coming at you from every direction and they want one thing: Your money. Don’t let them get it.

We raise this point because a Kauai resident recently shared this story with TGI and we share it here to hope it prevents anyone from being taken in. The resident said she received a scam call Tuesday.

This is what was said by a computerized voice recording: “Department regarding a tax fraud against your name, ignoring this will be an intentional attempt to avoid initial appearance before for a magistrate, judge or a grand jury for a federal criminal offense. So before this matter goes to federal claims court house or before you get arrested, call us back.”

“Hope to hear from you soon before the charges are pressed against you. Thank you.”

The resident called the number given.

“The gentleman who answered the phone said that he had to verify my information and needed my full name. I told him I was not giving him any information. I also told him that I forwarded his information prior to calling him to our Kauai Police Department. He then responded with ‘That’s fine.’ He then hung up the phone on me. I am concerned that these people are trying to rip off our elderly/kupuna who may not know that these people are trying to scam them out of their hard-earned money. It is sad that our world has thieves who would steal from our kupuna.”

It is sad. And it’s not just kupuna they’re after, though they tend to make easier targets because many live alone.

This resident was smart and didn’t lose their money. Others aren’t as fortunate and have lost hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

Another person on Kauai recently received a call that said something like this: “This is our fourth and final attempt to reach you. We can help you lower the interest rate on your credit card. Call back immediately.”

Don’t make that call.

We give scammers credit for being creative. They’ll make up a range of scenarios in hopes you’ll fall for one of them. Hurt grandson. Friend in trouble on overseas trip. Person in another country, with lots of money, of course, looking for a bride or husband in America. Winner of a sweepstakes. You owe the government money.

All of these are meant to get you talking with them on the phone or communicating via email, text. Anything to start the conversation. Scare you. Give you hope you won millions. Create compassion.

Then, eventually, it comes down to the point: Money is needed and they ask you to provide. Wire it. Quickly, of course, before you come to your senses.

When these calls and emails make their way to you, our advice is, be wary. Be skeptical. Don’t answer calls when you don’t recognize the number of the caller. Check things out with trusted relatives and friends.

Most important, don’t send money. Don’t wire it. Don’t give out personal information.

Be like the resident that brought this latest scam to TGI’s attention and you won’t become a victim of those who want to steal what you own.

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