Fraud Prevention

There are a number of scams that continue to be reported in this area. Most have been received through the mail, and include what looks to be a legitimate check for a substantial amount of money. The recipients are asked to deposit the check and return a specified amount, but to keep the rest as payment for cashing the check. DO NOT RESPOND TO THESE LETTERS. THE CHECKS ARE FRAUDULENT.

Other common schemes are (1) phony contests or lotteries, (2) requests for assistance getting large amounts of money out of another country and (3) overpayments for items you are selling on the internet by a bad check asking that you send the excess money back. In all of these cases you send money to the crooks. Unfortunately, you will never get their money. If they send you a payment, it will be a phony check.

Another scam that has been seen recently in Wisconsin, is a phishing attack. In this scam consumers report receiving automated calls that claim to be from a bank, but no specific institution is mentioned. The message says that the consumer's debit card has been compromised and prompts them to press 1 to be connected with the unnamed bank's security department. The consumer is then asked to enter their debit account number and pin. IF THIS HAS HAPPENED TO YOU PLEASE PROVIDE ANY INFORMATION TO YOUR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY OR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION FOR REVIEW.

Be careful to keep personal and account information secure. Please follow these steps to help avoid being scammed

  • Never carry your Social Security card, birth certificate, or passport unless you absolutely need to. This also goes for credit cards you do not plan to use. Keep all credit cards you are not using in a safe, secure place.
  • Keep your financial records secure and out of sight. If you no longer need them, shred all financial and personal documents before discarding them. (This includes credit card pre-approvals and receipts)
  • Do not give out any identifying information over the phone or the Internet unless you are absolutely sure of who you are providing that information to.
  • If you do not have a secure mailbox, mail all payments at the post office and pick up new checks from your bank.
  • Do not allow any business to use your social security number as your account number. (Check your insurance cards for this and request a new account number.)
  • Do not put your address, phone number or driver’s license number on any credit card sales receipt.
  • You should not have your social security number or phone number printed on your checks.
  • Check your credit card monthly statements for any transactions that you did not make.
  • Check your credit report for free at least yearly through any of the following businesses:
    • Equifax 1-800-525-6285 www.equifax.com
    • Experian 1-800-397-3742 www.experian.com
    • Trans Union 1-800-680-7289 www.transunion.com

A good rule of thumb is to follow your gut instinct. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do not let any sales person pressure you into purchasing something unless you have looked into the product. Do not pay upfront for services and be sure you are satisfied with the end result before paying for the project. And if you have not purchased a lottery ticket in a foreign country you cannot win that lottery. If you have won a large sum of money, you will not have to pay out of pocket fees in order to obtain that money.

For further information on this subject or if you think that you have been the victim of a scam, please contact your local law enforcement agency.

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