That phone call one receives, or email arriving in one’s in-box promising big money on a small “investment” should always raise a red flag that something just isn’t right. Locally, fraud of this type is on the rise and two local law enforcement agencies have some wise advice on how to respond to these kinds of “offers,” as well as steps people can take to limit their exposure to identity theft and other scams.
“Scammers and identity thieves are always present here in Grayson County,” warns Norman Chaffins of the Leitchfield Police Department. “As technology advances so do the tactics of the criminals.”
Actions that can be utilized to dissuade thieves from targeting individuals are numerous, and in some cases, common sense.
“At home, some of the things we can do are shred documents that have any personal information on them such as credit card offers, bill payment stubs, paycheck stubs, etc.,” Chaffins noted. “Many scammers will dumpster dive -- go through your garbage -- to obtain personal information to use to obtain your identity.”
Properly disposing of one’s personal, financial information is just part of what people can do to protect themselves.
“Do NOT give out your personal information or credit card information to anyone over the phone unless you trust the person to whom you are giving it,” Chaffins emphasized.
Of course, the Internet has introduced a new, sometimes more polished brand of thief who uses social media and other resources to glean information about potential victims.
“Currently, there are scams all over the internet,” Chaffins said. “DO NOT post that you will be on vacation; this is an invitation for thieves to burglarize your home.”
Shane Doyle of the Edmonson County Sheriff’s Department, an area of central Kentucky that has also seen an increase in fraudulent activity, has words of wisdom regarding offers from strangers that seem too good to be true.
"Any offer promising big money (in return for) small (amounts of) money is always, always fraud,” Doyle said. “You may even receive a check to help you pay fees and taxes, but in the end you'll be liable for the lost money."
Following the guidelines set forth by law enforcement to protect oneself from scam artists is made even more important by the fact that nabbing thieves who practice this illegal activity is very difficult, and sometimes impossible.
"These types of cases are notoriously difficult to make arrests on and recover lost money, so before you become a victim, make sure it's not a scam,” Doyle said.
And in a scam that has been around for many decades, criminals pretending to be contractors will flee with one’s hard-earned money in hand, instead of finishing the job they were hired to complete.
“If someone comes to solicit business with whom you are not familiar, ask for and record an ID,” Chaffins stated. “Check their credentials and get back with them. These types of scammers are particularly popular during a disaster or inclement weather. They collect cash, do part of the job, and then exit the area without finishing.”
Also remember; never pay a contractor or anyone doing work on one’s home, until after the job is satisfactorily completed. And always keep in mind -- when an offer of any type seems too good to be true, it usually is.