Consumer losses to phone scams: $29.8 billion. Another $56 billion was lost to identity fraud.
Especially during the holidays, loneliness can creep up on us all. Please exercise caution, though, to prevent that loneliness, or even “the blues” which can follow the holiday, from allowing you to fall prey to online fraudsters.
Some digital “con artists” take a much different approach than trying to guess your password, or hack your Facebook account. One approach we’ve seen used is to get you “chatting” online, by email, Facebook (including Messenger, which is not very “Private” at all, despite its name), convince you that they are genuine, and then eventually tell you that they need money, or gift cards, or some bill paid off, or a plane or bus ticket to… it may be virtually anything. What to watch for… is that they are asking you to give them something. Quite simply: do NOT do it!
If it’s your Facebook “friend,” someone you have known for years, it’s legit; right? Not so fast. It’s very easy for some other person to look at your “friends” list, create a FB account with the name of someone you know, and even copy their photo, so to you… it looks like that friend you have known for years! Be suspicious when that friend then requests that you do something financial for them.
Don’t send money (or pay for something), or give away any information , including your phone number, online. If they get your phone number, then they can call you, and further convince you that they need help, and that you are the only one who can give it.
- Do NOT give your phone number to anyone you “meet online;”
- Do NOT give your phone number to anyone you do not know in person;
- Do NOT assume that just because it appears to be a “friend” (Facebook or otherwise) who is sending you a “private message,” that it is safe;
- Do NOT even send money, gift cards, or even access to your money or credit card, to anyone you have met online.
Please protect yourself, and your loved ones, by being especially protective, and particularly suspicious, of online (and telephone) fraud. After all, one legal definition of fraud is: persuading someone to pay or give you something, but using false statements or representations. Don’t let t hat happen to you or someone you love, online. The consequences, flowing from loneliness or a genuine desire to be helpful to someone else, can be devastating.