Protecting Yourself from Scammers

Dearl Fellow Survivalist;

The chances of you or I getting into a shootout with a criminal are actually rather slim. The chances of us being found by a scammer on the other hand are extremely high. Currently, scamming is a $8.8 billion dollar industry and it is rising rapidly, up 30% from the previous year. Scammers use a thousand different schemes and integrate themselves into every area of human interaction. This makes them hard to spot and even harder for the police to catch.

The internet has provided a great boon to the scammers. Before it, we never even heard the term “identity theft.” While scammers did exist, most of us were protected from them by being little guys that weren’t worth their time. But the internet has turned scamming into a wholesale business, where the scammers can make a good living by hitting up a lot of people for small amounts, rather than having to seek out victims which provide them with big wins. 

Currently, one in every ten adults fall victim to scamming every year. That rate is a bit higher for the elderly, as well as how much the scammers get them for. On the average, scams perpetrated against the elderly garner twice the profits of those against younger generations.

While there are many sorts of scams, they all have one thing in common; they are asking you to give them money. Whether that is for services they promise to provide, products they never ship you or charities that don’t exist, there is an element of them trying to convince you to send them money, in exchange for something. Generally speaking, there’s a time element involved, where you have to do it RIGHT NOW or something will go wrong. 

In the Denver metropolitan area, housing has become both scarce and extremely expensive, leading to plenty of opportunity for scammers. They would advertise properties for rent, which they didn’t own or have legal right to, then when people called, they would put pressure on them to close the deal quickly, as there were others who wanted to rent the same property. 

Facebook and probably other social media sights have become platforms for scammers, advertising things and never shipping them. One common way for them to operate is to offer merchandise at incredible discounts from companies that are supposedly going out of business. The old adage of “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” definitely applies here. 

Scammers are constantly changing their tactics, trying to hide themselves in the hustle and bustle of online business. They now enter into groups, posing as members with low-dollar items for sale, such as good prices on rare woods for woodworking groups. They get people to send them money, just as in any other person-to-person transaction, but never send the promised goods. 

So, how do we protect ourselves? 

I’ve had the opportunity to see those around me fall into various scams and I’ll have to admit I’ve fallen into a few low-dollar ones myself. In each and every case, the person who is scamming has presented themselves as a legitimate business, either seeking to sell a product or seeking money for charity. Through this, I’ve come up with a simple strategy that has protected me from harm. That is, I only do business with people and businesses that I know. 

Anyone calling on the phone, seeking money for charity, trying to get you to renew your NRA membership, or selling leaf guards for your gutters is probably a scam. I don’t care who they are, even if they present themselves as my grandchildren, if they’re asking for money on the phone, I hang up on them. That voice which sounds like my child or grandchild could be a deepfake. If I think it might actually be them, I call them back to check.

The same goes for anyone soliciting online. Unless it is a website I know, I ignore it, no matter how good the deal seems to be. I’ll buy from and other large online retailers and I’ll also buy from small-time retailers I know, like blogs that I read regularly. But I don’t buy anything off of Facebook or any other social media, nor from anything sent to me in an e-mail. 

There are times when something seems like it might be legit. If that’s the case, then I might check it out, rather than dismissing it out of hand. A website selling tools is always bound to catch my eye. But the first thing I’ll do is check to see how long that website has been in existence. That’s public information and it’s not hard to check. If it hasn’t been around for more than a few months, chances are it’s nothing more than just one more scam. 

I’m quite sure that I’ve missed out on some good deals like this; but I’m also sure that I’ve missed out on the opportunity to have my money taken from me for nothing. In the end, I believe the money that I’ve saved from being stolen from me, outweighs the money I might have saved. 

If I’m going to protect myself and my family, that means protecting myself in all ways and from all attacks. This is just one more way that people are trying to attack in these times. We must be astute and aware, in order to protect what is ours. And in the meantime, we need to keep our powder dry and our survival gear close at hand. 

Dr. Rich

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