How to beat scam artists: Tips to be safe

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of a Dayton Daily News investigation revealing how local people are losings thousands of dollars to scam artists. We investigated months of scam reports that revealed scam artists are becoming more sophisticated in their approaches. Go here for the full report.

You don’t have to be a victim.

With most criminal attempts to separate you from your money, the warning signs are visible, if you’re willing to look.

That new online “friend” who never wants to meet face-to-face but still asks for money? Ditch him.

A stranger making an unexpected phone call asking for personal information or to “verify” info that legitimate organizations should already have? Hang up.

That other stranger who wants you to take a check for something you’re selling online, for an amount that’s greater than your asking price? If the “buyer” wants you to wire-transfer the difference in funds, that’s a counterfeit check on offer.

Arm yourself with information:

Be skeptical: Ask questions. Don't agree to any transaction you don't understand. Don't agree to wire-transfer funds, especially to strangers who are trying to rush you.

Don't believe your caller ID: Unfortunately, fraudsters can "spoof" legitimate caller identification numbers and create false web sites. Be wary.

Fight phishing: Don't click on links in strange emails or emails that don't look quite right. Just delete the email. Responding to unknown senders in any way can verify that yours is a working email address. That may result in more unwanted messages.

Take your time: Be suspicious of pressure. Don't be hurried into agreeing to anything you don't understand. Legitimate financial transactions take time. If you're being threatened, hang up.

Get allies: You're not alone. Contact the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission or the National Consumers League.

About the Author