It is easy to pretend to be someone you are not when on the internet or using the phone. That is one of the reasons it is a good idea to employ a healthy bit of skepticism when looking at a Facebook profile or browsing a dating website.
Even when dealing with what you believe to be a legitimate business or organization, it is still sometimes difficult to tell who is real, and who is faking it.
In fact, the Federal Trade Commission recently sent out alerts regarding scammers posing as the FTC. In other instances, con-artists have pretended to represent the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund. These are known as "imposter scams."
In these instances, the scammer will go to great lengths pretending to be a well-known or trusted business, using it as bait to trick unwitting consumers into giving away their money or personal information.
According to the Better Business Bureau, some of the most impersonated organizations include the Internal Revenue Service, the U. S. Government and, surprisingly, the BBB itself.
The person on the other end of the line will talk of taxes owed, grants that need to be claimed, dues that must to be collected or information that has to be updated.
The goal is usually the same: to separate you from your money.
Those who suspect they are being contacted by an imposter should remember three things:
- Do not wire money. Anytime a caller asks you to pay using a prepaid debit card or to make a wire transfer, use extreme caution. Consider taking additional steps to verify the authenticity of the organization the person claims to represent.
- Resist pressure to pay immediately. Most scammers will press for immediate payment, not wanting to risk losing an opportunity to cheat you because you take additional time to consider your options. They will often try to intimidate you into giving them your personal and banking information.
- Call Customer Service. Any time you feel pressured for immediate action by a caller, leave the conversation and contact the Customer Service department. This will usually ensure that you are speaking to an actual representative of the organization.
Looking for more information on this topic? Head to www.BBB.org.
Remember, if you are a victim of a scam, report it to www.BBB.org/scamtracker.
Got a question for the BBB? Contact Regional Director Kelly Trevino at firstname.lastname@example.org.