By Denise Sikorski
Asst. PIO OCSO
We wanted to take a moment to address the issue of scammers. Since scammers have become very creative in their techniques, we feel that arming the public with knowledge is a great tool in preventing those in our community from becoming victims of these dishonest schemes. Scammers often prey upon the elderly, the innocent, and anyone who may or may not understand the enormity of the impact scammers are taking on society. In short, anyone can be targeted.
Information from the Federal Trade Commission reports that in 2021, consumers lost more than 5.8 Billion to fraud and scammers. This was a 70 percent increase over the previous year.
Many scams are being carried out not only by telephone but by email as well.
To help you determine whether you are being targeted by scammers, we wanted to give you some information to help aid in spotting and deterring scammers from taking your money and/or credit.
1. They may claim to be a person of authority, i.e. : Law Enforcement, Social Security Administration, Inspector General, IRS, and the list could go on.
2. Speak to you with a sense of urgency or intimidation, sometimes even shouting or using insults.
3. Pressure you to pay or reconcile the issue right then or face severe consequences such as arrest or jail time.
4. Try to keep you engaged on the phone if you try to end the conversation without paying.
5. Ask you to verify your personal information by giving them your bank account information, credit card numbers, or pin numbers.
6. They may ask or require that you pay using a wire transfer.
7. Make claims that someone in your family was hurt, arrested, or detained until you send them money.
8. They may offer to let you pay in gift cards, or request that you purchase gift cards.
9. If you are being contacted via email, there may be misspellings or grammatical errors. The name and or logo of the company may be similar to a popular company that you do business with. i.e.: Amazing. com
10. They will not agree to allow you to research the issue they are presenting to you.
If you feel that you are being contacted by a scammer, please slow down, due your due diligence, take some time to research the company and/or the issue being presented to you. if you take these steps, and cannot determine whether you are being scammed, contact the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office for help in determining whether this is a legitimate concern or scam.