In a recent workshop sponsored by the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce at the Yosemite Gateway Association of Realtors office, Manuel Garcia, assistant director of business services for the Central Valley Better Business Bureau, said a variety of scams are on the rise. Garcia presented the following reminders on how Mountain Area residents can stay safe and practice “Smarter Living.”
To stop instances of phone fraud, Garcia gave these tips:
☆ Who’s calling, and why? Telemarketers must tell you it’s a sales call, the name of the seller, and what they’re selling before they make their pitch. If they don’t, hang up.
☆ What’s the hurry? Fast talkers who use high pressure tactics could be hiding something. Take your time before you commit to anything.
☆ If it’s free, why the need to pay? Question any charges you need to pay to “redeem” a prize or gift. Free is free.
☆ Why am I “confirming” my account information or giving it out? Some callers have your information before they call you. They’re trying to get your “okay” so they can claim you approved a charge.
☆ What time is it? Laws allow telemarketers to call you only between 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
☆ Do I want more calls like this? If you don’t want to be called back, say so. If they call back anyway, they’re breaking the law.
To report phone fraud, visit the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP. You can register for the national Do Not Call registry at www.DoNotCall.gov, or by calling 1-888-382-1222. That will stop most telemarketing calls, but not all of them.
These suggestions can apply to senior citizens, who are often targeted by potential scammers through a slew of common methods such as fake foreign lotteries, false home repairs or improvements, telemarketing schemes, phony charities, and investment or healthcare scams.
Visit www.bbb.org for more information.
Identity theft is a serious crime that can disrupt your finances, credit history, and reputation. Here’s how to protect your information.
☆ Read your credit reports. Every American is legally entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can order all three reports at once, or one every four months. To do so, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
☆ Read your bank’s credit card and account statements, and the explanation of medical benefits from your health plan.
☆ Shred all documents that show personal, financial, and medical information before throwing them away.
☆ Don’t respond to email, text, and phone messages that ask for personal information.
☆ Create passwords that mix letters, numbers, and special characters. Don’t use the same password for more than one account.
☆ If you shop or bank online, use websites that protect your financial information with encryption. An encrypted site has “https” at the beginning of the web address, where “s” stands for secure.
☆ If you use a public wireless network, don’t send information to any website that isn’t fully encrypted.
☆ Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, such as a firewall on your computer.
☆ Regularly update your computer’s operating system, web browser, and security systems.