Kick Scams to the Curb
It seems scammers never sleep—they certainly never tire of looking for ways to liberate you from your identity and/or cash.
Below are links to common scams. Be vigilant, stay safe and don’t let the criminals scam you! Then, read on for more ways to avoid becoming a scam victim.
- Read AARP’s “14 Top Scams to Watch Out for in 2023” at bit.ly/3PmAJRn.
- USA Today shares 4 tricks phone scammers are using—and how to stop them at bit.ly/3BExQ5C
- Experian shares the latest scams you need to be aware of at bit.ly/3SnZ4UD
- The Federal Trade Commission shares scam alerts, common scams and reporting scams at bit.ly/3dxKUS8
- Usa.gov shares common scams and frauds at bit.ly/3xKOQ8X
- Nbcnews.com shares that when you receive an odd text from a wrong number, it’s probably a scam at nbcnews.to/3SqR1GQ
Safe Mail Practices
Postal inspectors in Laguna Woods and across the country work hard to protect your mail. But with deliveries to more than 100 million addresses, the Postal Inspection Service can’t do the job alone. Here’s how you can help keep your mail safe from potential theft:
- Enroll online in the United States Postal Service’s free Informed Delivery program, which lets patrons preview grayscale images of incoming mail, track packages, leave delivery instructions, reschedule delivery and more.
- Use the letter slots at your post office to mail letters, or hand them to a letter carrier.
- Deposit mail in USPS blue collection boxes before the last pickup time that appears on the schedule posted on each box.
- Remove mail from your mailbox promptly after delivery, especially if you’re expecting checks, credit cards or other sensitive items. If you won’t be home when the items are expected, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail. Don’t leave it in your mailbox overnight.
- Don’t send cash in the mail.
- Ask your bank for “secure” checks that can’t be altered.
- Request the post office hold your mail if you plan to be away from home for more than three days. You can initiate a mail hold at the post office or online at USPS.com.
- Call the Sheriffs Department immediately at 949-770-6011 if you see a mail thief at work; then call postal inspectors at 877-876-2455 (press 3).
- If you believe your mail was stolen, report it immediately to Laguna Woods Village Security at 949-580-1400. Personnel also will direct you to file a report with the Sherriff’s Department and postmaster/postal inspector. Postal inspectors may determine whether your incident is isolated or part of a larger mail-theft problem. Your report may help them locate and apprehend the thieves.
- File a mail-theft report by calling postal inspectors at 877-876-2455 or complete the report online at the United States Postal Inspection Service website.
Just Hang Up
- Don’t answer calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize or from calls you’re not expecting. If you answer and discover it’s a robocall, just hang up. You don’t need to say anything and you don’t owe any explanation.
- Never give personal information to unknown callers or allow them access to your computer over the internet. Instead, hang up and call the organization directly to find out if the call was legitimate.
- If someone calls and claims to be with a government agency, no matter how official or serious the situation sounds—hang up. The longer you stay on the line, the more likely you are to become a victim.
- Don’t trust callers just because they know some of your personal information. Due to numerous data breaches, many fraudsters are providing victims with their SSN to build trust.
- Contact the agency that supposedly called you. Look up the number on your own—don’t trust your caller ID or the number the caller may have given you.
Don’t Get Hooked by Email Phishing Schemes
Phishing is one of the most popular email scams. Hackers use “bait”—a seemingly legitimate file or link—to “phish” for victims and gain personal information. Email security threats come in many forms. Here’s how to recognize fake emails.
- Don’t trust the display name. Often, a phishing email will come from an address that appears to be genuine; if you only glance at these details they can look legitimate. However, if you examine them, you may find that it’s a bogus variation intended to appear authentic—for example, email@example.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Look but don’t click. Hover your mouse over any links embedded in the body of the email. If the link address looks suspicious, don’t click on it.
- Check for spelling mistakes. Legitimate messages usually do not have major spelling mistakes or poor grammar. Read your emails carefully and report anything that seems suspicious.
- Analyze the salutation. Beware any email addressed to a vague “Valued Customer.” Legitimate businesses often use a personal salutation with your first and last name.
- Don’t provide personal information. Legitimate banks and most other companies will never ask for personal credentials via email.
- Beware of urgency and drama. Invoking a sense of urgency or fear is a common phishing tactic. Beware of subject lines that claim your “account has been suspended” or your account had an “unauthorized login attempt.”
- Review the signature. Lack of details about the signer or how you can contact a company strongly suggests a phish. Legitimate businesses always provide contact details.
- Don’t click on attachments, don’t open any email attachments you weren’t expecting and don’t open email that looks even remotely suspicious.
Protect Identity, Monitor Credit
- Install antivirus software on your computer and keep it up to date.
- Invest in identity theft protection (bit.ly/2Z1H75V).
- Monitor your credit for free (bit.ly/2Wsk3LO).
First-Line Defenses for General Scams
- AARP Fraud Watch Network (aarp.org/money/scams-fraud): Call 877-908-3360 to talk to a trained volunteer on the Fraud Watch Helpline.
- California Attorney General’s Office (oag.ca.gov/consumers#topics): Learn about common scams and other consumer issues.
- FBI (ic3.gov/default.aspx): File a report with the Federal Bureau of Investigations Internet Crime Complaint Center.
- Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov): File a consumer complaint, report identity theft and register for the Do Not Call list. Report suspicious emails to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com. If you believe you have been taken advantage of by a spam scam, file a complaint with the FTC online at ftc.gov/complaint.
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