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Street Scams

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The Con
Internet scammers constantly cast about for personal information. Many use a technique called “phishing,” hoping to hook you with spam emails offering prizes and job opportunities or warning that one of your financial accounts is about to be closed. But there’s always a catch: They say they need your credit card number, or bank account, or billing information. Some even ask you to send money to collect a free prize! Don’t fall for it, even if the scammers claim to represent a familiar business or organization. No legitimate company would ever make such demands.

“Arkansas lost almost $1.5 million to cyber-criminals in 2006. One person lost $56,000 in a check scam.” — Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

International lotteries
“You’re already a winner,” the message says. All you have to do is join a lottery club, usually a foreign enterprise. You’re asked to reply with a bank account number so your winnings can be deposited. The reality is that the scammer needs your information to withdraw money from your account. Don’t join any online lottery clubs, either. Once you respond to one such offer, count on your name being placed on a list that will be sold to other fraudulent marketers.

Unsolicited job offers
Watch out for promotions promising quick and easy ways to make money by stuffing envelopes or processing claims. Those work-at-home offers fail to mention the hidden costs of buying supplies and software, making copies or placing newspaper ads. Then, after you’ve invested time and money, the promoter decides your work is substandard and doesn’t pay. Other schemes can cost you more than money. Your reputation is on the line when the job requires you to cash or deposit what turns out to be a counterfeit check.

Imagine opening an email from a “hit man,” who claims he’s been hired to kill you unless you pay thousands of dollars to cancel the contract. You’re warned not to go to the police, or your family’s lives will be in danger. This so-called “killer spam” has been circulating across the country, including in Arkansas. The FBI is aware of this scam, suspects it originated from outside the United States and has no reason to believe it is legitimate. Don’t respond to the emailer. Do report it to your local police agency.

Play Defense: Steps you can take to avoid being scammed.

Go on Offense: Steps you can take to hit the scammers where it hurts.

Ask for Help: List of agencies and organizations you can contact for information, answers and more.

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