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Opinion: Even you can fall prey to scams

Trust no one.

Maybe that should be the mantra to help people avoid scams.

You might think you would never fall for a scam, but you can ask anyone in the police blotter and they’ll tell you they thought the same thing.

When scammers call, they certainly sound real.

I received a call a few weeks ago and the scammer left a message on my answering machine.

The message, “This is your credit card company. We believe there is a fraudulent charge on your credit card for $785 at a hotel in Dubai. Contact us right away.”

The only place I’ve been in weeks is the grocery store and Lehighton. I rush to the phone.

I call the number and it’s not my credit card company. I get a recording to say I qualify for a life alert.

That’s when I realize someone doesn’t have my number. They are trying to get my number.

Interestingly the number I called is not the one that comes up in my phone history.

I call that number. I ask the person who answers whom I am speaking to.

The guy says a local bank name.

Now I am sure it’s a scam. I have no accounts at that bank.

I did call my credit card company and there were no payments to a hotel in Dubai.


Clever, though, and realistic.

Who wouldn’t panic?

I’ve already had my identity stolen at least once.

I have not made purchase agreements at electronics stores. I don’t have an extended car warranty.

Scams can also come in text form.

Recently the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission reported fraudulent texts that appear to be from “E-ZPass Toll Services” and claim that the recipient has an outstanding toll balance. The texts include a link that directs the recipient to a fake website to pay the balance and avoid a late fee.

And bingo, they have your credit card number.

PPL Electric Utilities has warned customers can be the target of scams by phone, text, email, or in person. Scammers may try to trick customers into giving away personal information, making payments, or signing up for services.

Scammers may threaten to disconnect service if a bill isn’t paid immediately, or ask for payment with a prepaid card, cryptocurrency, or gift card. They may also send texts requesting personal information.

Don’t even trust your caller ID.

Scammers can spoof phone numbers to make it look like they’re calling from PPL Electric.

And that hint of truth catches you off guard.

Here’s a recent police log item. A 71-year-old Fogelsville man had nearly $10,000 stolen when someone posing as a representative of his bank transferred money out of his bank account.

Scammers are targeting everyone - not just elderly.

Last week we reported a theft by deception case in West Brunswick Township. State police reported a 26-year-old woman from Schuylkill Haven reported someone stole $1,500 from her through a cold call card-style scam.

Sometimes we go looking for scammers and they are ready.

Police said a 64-year-old man from Bath recently lost $60,000 when he registered in an investment group he found on the “What’sApp” application that offered members the capability to trade cryptocurrency options. It was not legit.

Same with romance scams where we “befriend” someone who turns out to need money.

So, what can you do?

The first way to protect yourself is to believe you are vulnerable.

No one is immune.

When contacted slow them down. Review details.

Resist demands to act immediately, and don’t be pressured to make a quick decision.

If the caller says they are from your credit card company, PPL or anyone you normally deal with, get the person’s name, hang up and call the company yourself.

There’s a new scam every day. Stay informed.

Rep. Doyle Heffley and Sen. David Argall are hosting a seminar for older adults from 10-11 a.m. Thursday at the Lehighton Senior Center, 243 S. 8th St., Lehighton.

Pennsylvania Department of Attorney General Director of Protection David P. Shallcross will be speaking about the latest scams.

For the rest of us, remember our mother’s advice: If it doesn’t sound right, it’s not. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

MARTA GOUGER | mgouger@tnonline.com