Watch your wallet.
Scam artists have been having a field day lately. Not just in big cities, but right here in Douglas County too.
In the last week, the newspaper has received several scam alerts – some new, some that have been around for decades.
Let’s start with a new one that Douglas County Senior Services has brought to light: Scammers, falsely claiming they are from CMS, are calling beneficiaries and telling them they can get a free DNA testing kit from Medicare if the beneficiary provides their Medicare number, Social Security Number and other personal information.
CMS, however, does not give out free DNA kits. The callers, of course, are just trying to get personal information to access their victim’s financial accounts.
Meanwhile, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has also received many recent complaints involving a phone scam where residents are led to believe they’ve won prizes of money and automobiles through Publishers Clearing House.
The scammers try to convince their victims that they are the lucky winners but have to send money to them to cover fees in order to claim their prize.
The Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes is legitimate so that is why the scammers are using the name to complete their scam. The important things to know: Publishers Clearing House does not call or email winners. You never have to pay to receive a legitimate Publisher Clearing House prize.
The sheriff’s office also continues to get complaints of scammers providing gift card numbers to a caller or through emails in another ploy to steal money.
On top of that, there’s the old “your grandson is in jail and needs money” scam that preys upon people’s willingness to try to help someone even if the voice on the other end of the line doesn’t quite sound like a grandson.
Also, last week, the newspaper received a warning from Social Security Administration about callers who falsely claim to be from their office in an effort to gain access to financial accounts. They will try to convince their victims that their Social Security Number has been suspended because of suspicious illegal activity and that they must call a certain number to reactivate their account.
These scammers are devious. They spoof SSA’s main customer service number to make it appear on caller ID.
The SSA provided these three pieces of advice:
Talk about it! Social Security scams haven’t been as common until recently. Share the message with others to make them aware of this type of scam.
Government employees will not threaten to take away benefits or ask for money or personal information to protect your Social Security card or benefits.
Report Social Security scams to the SSA Office of Inspector General Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271 or oig.ssa.gov/report and to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov/complaint.
The scams mentioned in this editorial are just the tip of the iceberg of other tactics that con artists will stoop to in order to get money or steal someone’s identity. New scams or twists on old ones are popping up over the phone, Internet and social media sites like the “whack-a-mole” game.
Don’t be fooled. Remember this simple message from the sheriff’s office: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Double check before sending your money off to someone or somewhere you're not certain about.