‘Just say no to scams’ advises Sibley Co. deputy

Gives tips at Winthrop Farm City Fun Fest

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Sibley County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jeremy Templin talks about how to protect yourself from fraud and common scams at the Winthrop Farm City Fun Fest Saturday.

WINTHROP — “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Sibley County Chief Deputy Jeremy Templin said at a presentation about how to protect yourself from scams at the Winthrop Farm City Fun Fest Saturday.

Templin said consumers can avoid scams by knowing how to recognize them, how to protect themselves and what tools and resources are available.

He said scams are as varied as their perpetrators’ imaginations, but they all have certain things in common, and all scams raise at least one warning sign. They include:

• An unexpected contact may be an imposter, if you are not expecting a call, email, text message or visit from a business or government agency.

• A request for money or personal information.

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Aria Pierson of Paynesville pets a bunny at the Winthrop Farm City Fun Fest Petting Zoo Saturday.

• Being rushed to hand over money, personal information or make an important decision usually means scammers don’t want to give you time to do research and make an informed decision.

• A threatening or enticing offer that plays on emotions, often fear, threat of arrest, deportation, loss of account access, or hope like promises of easy money, romance, or a solution to a financial problem.

• Demand for a particular payment method like a wire transfer, prepaid card number, gift card or other unrecoverable method.

• When faced with a demand for money, personal or account information or computer access, talk to someone you trust like a savvy friend, family member or attorney, banker or law enforcement.

• The internet is a powerful tool to research individuals and businesses, verify facts and stories.

“They’ll try to scare you with warrant numbers or talk of a relative needing bail money. They’ll ask for money over the phone,” Templin said. “They want card numbers, then they log in and retrieve money. When they do that, the money is gone. Don’t give credit card information over the phone.”

Templin said law enforcement agencies will never call anyone about arrest warrants or anything like that.

“The IRS will never call or email you. They use the mail,” Templin said.

He said skimmer devices on fuel pumps and cash machines capture credit card information and can download it by Bluetooth or WiFi.

Templin said a number of contractor scammers were in Sibley County a couple years ago after severe weather caused hail damage to residences and businesses.

“They’ll offer to shingle your roof or paint your barn. They’ll ask for money up front. Once they have that, they’re gone and will never come back,” Templin said. “Research these people. The Better Business Bureau has a scam tracker. Call us to see if it’s legit.”

Templin said lottery and sweepstake scams often ask for money before they say you will receive a “prize.”

He urged people to beware of clicking on any links or attachments in an email that appear to be coming from a bank or other trusted institution. Instead, type in the bank’s web address or call the number on the back of your bill to verify.

If someone you met online suddenly wants money to pay for a family emergency or for them to visit you, it’s probably a trap. Be especially aware if your new friend wants you to move the conversation to text message, chat apps or email instead of a dating website’s messaging platform.

If someone calls you claiming to be “tech support” for Microsoft, Google, Best Buy or another technology firm, hang up the phone or delete the email. They may install malware or encrypt your files and hold your computer for ransom.

Fraud resources include: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov (file a complaint directly on this website), www.ag.state.mn.us; http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts), http://www.fraud.org/, www.identifytheft.gov offers a recovery plan for identify theft victims.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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