Be wary of scams - if it's too good to be true...

Predators come in all shapes and sizes.

And the holidays can bring out the monsters.

We hear a lot about scams at The Herald-Mail. Once or twice a week we receive news releases from police about residents who have been scammed out of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars by predators who use the phone and Internet as their weapons.

We do our best to cover these scams and warn residents about them. To me, they always seemed like they were happening to someone else. Then last year, someone close to me fell victim to a scam and lost a lot of money.

A few months later, a good friend also had someone close to them fall victim to a phone scam. This person also sent a boatload of cash to a predator under the guise of trying to help someone in need.

This needs to stop. We need to get the word out so that these tricks won’t work anymore.

This summer, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Adam Reed shared some basic information with me that could help slow the spread of scams and keep people’s hard-earned cash where it belongs.

I’ve also accumulated some other tips from sources over the years that are good to share with everyone.   

The No. 1 thing to remember: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Nobody gives money away. Nobody from the Royal Family of Burundi will ever contact you to help them clear a family inheritance of 3 million francs. Nobody is giving away $250 Red Lobster gift cards. Nobody is going to lose weight by eating the same bad food and not exercising. Nobody can pay off their house in four years by using some fool-proof system.

They all are trying to separate you from your money.

Here’s another one:

You get a call from a grandchild who went on a last-minute trip somewhere out of the country (usually Canada) and has managed to get into some kind of trouble. The caller knows your name and knows your grandchild’s name. They might even know other facts about you that they found on Facebook or by using a simple Google search.

DO NOT SEND THEM ANY MONEY OR GIVE THEM YOUR BANK INFORMATION no matter how much they cry and beg.

This is a scam. Hang up the phone and call the grandchild or grandchild’s mother. You will discover that they are fine.

Some more tips from Trooper Reed:

• Your bank or financial institution will never request personal information, such as a Social Security number or routing information from you via email or over the phone.

I never give my Social Security number to anyone. Some companies and banks ask for the last four digits for identification purposes and that is fine. However, I’ve been asked to give my SS number at the doctor’s office when I took my daughter in for a broken hand. Don’t give it to them. There’s no reason for them to have it. It’s just asking for trouble.  

• Before giving out your credit card information, make sure that you are giving it to a trusted source or business.

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