Scamming has been around forever, and folks are fond of quoting the old adage “There’s a sucker born every minute,” however callous that might be.
The truth is, new technology has taken the con game to new levels, and all of us are marks. The worst thing to do is to assume you’ll see it coming — you might well find your wallet empty first.
In this week’s edition, PSEG, the utility provider, warns its customers are getting taken by scam artists who mimic legitimate utility personnel to the point that “PSEG” shows up on your caller ID. They may even come to your home wearing the requisite uniform. And since many of us tend to put the utility bill at the bottom of the pile, it seems plausible when someone seeks payment.
Senior citizens are frequently targeted by a number of fraudsters. One scheme, Tech Support, just might be the biggest consumer scam in the U.S. right now. An estimated 3.3 million people — many of them seniors — fall for the scheme in their zeal to become computer savvy. Do not entertain phone callers offering to rid your computer of viruses or who promise to install new programs.
Forbes reports three different student loan scams out there, all promising to help repay the loans. The offer will often come as a promise to consolidate your student loans and lower your monthly payments. The only official forms of student loan consolidations are sanctioned by the federal government. Check out www.studentloans.gov or call 1-800-557-7394.
The immigrant population has long been plagued by conmen who take advantage of the language barrier, but under the Trump administration, fear of deportation has led to an avalanche of schemes and needless risk taking. No one can buy you safety in the U.S. or legitimize your papers. There are no licenses or permits that are genuine that can be bought on the Black Market. Go to community leaders if you see it happening in your neighborhood.
Law enforcement officials are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of scams perpetrated on the public and the fact they can originate anywhere, frequently in another country. That said, it would be nice if more special units were set up that could spend more time engaging the scammers, setting up a rendezvous, and then making an arrest. It could lead to some big fish and even restitution, which should be the ultimate goal. Too often, people who fall prey to these things never do get their hard-earned money back, and sometimes it’s their life savings.