Scams, identity theft affect local residents

Unfortunately, our office often hears firsthand accounts from local residents who have been scammed. I wanted to let people know of common scams local residents have experienced recently and how to avoid scams and identity theft.

One scam currently affecting local residents is a lottery scam. In this scam, an email is sent announcing that the recipient has won a prize. Many times the email looks official and encourages the recipient to follow easy steps to claim his or her prize including calling a number contained in the email. Once the person is on the phone, the scam artist is able to collect personal information or provide instructions on how the person can obtain the so-called prize. There is, however, never a prize after he or she follows these “simple instructions” which almost always includes sending a check or wiring money.

The New York State Gaming Commission reminds residents that unless they are lottery subscribers, they will never be notified of winning a prize by the lottery. Winners must come forward with a winning ticket to notify the lottery. Also, the lottery never requires a payment of any money in order to claim a prize. There is also never a processing fee or any other suggested fee in relation to claiming a prize. If you doubt an email or phone call you have received, you may email the lottery at info@gaming.ny.gov or contact the New York Lottery’s Security Unit at 518-388-3416. If you suspect a scam, you may file a complaint with the New York State Attorney General’s office by calling the consumer helpline at 800-771-7755 or visiting the Attorney General’s website at www.ag.ny.gov.

Scammers are convincing and will say things victims often want to hear to earn the person’s trust. Often elderly are targets. The Better Business Bureau recently warned of five other scams taking place throughout the area as well, including high pressure door to door tactics, job scams claiming to need fees for training, and summer concert ticket scams. These ticket scams get people by tricking the consumer into sending money, but in return, there is no ticket. Vacation scams are also prevalent and trick people into buying a so-called vacation for a bargain, only to find out there was never such a vacation available. To learn more, visit http://www.bbb.org/upstate-new-york. Another one our office learned about is someone who claims to be from Windows. These scammers are seeking remote access to your computer in order to obtain bank account numbers and passwords.

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