Newspaper Archive of
Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
July 27, 2018     Quoddy Tides
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July 27, 2018

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Page 14 THE QUODDY TIDES 27 July, 2018 STEPS TO COMBAT SCANTS ARE OUTLINED (from page 1) answers, the scammer goes to work. The ing from the IRS"; and the promise of initial line of attack is to "make friends" phantom riches - "You have won a lot- with the intended victim, asking questions tery." about a person's children and grandchil- "When a person is swayed by one or dren. The answers to these questions help more of these tactics, logic shuts down," the scammer to determine a person's emo- Abbott said. tional triggers. The goal is to get the vic- A Maine woman, whose logic shut tim in a heightened emotional state. One down, lost her life savings to the "Jamai- scammer brags, "The big trick is to get can lottery." A caller informed the woman them under the ether." that she was a $1 million winner. But there If a scammer is unable to befriend a was one stipulation. Before the money target, insults, "Are you stupid? Do you could be released, the woman was re- want your family to suffer?" and direct quired to pay the taxes on her winnings. threats, "I am going to burn down your Excited that she would be able to "set up" house," are the next lines of attack. A her loved ones, the woman immediately scammer admits, "Once I have someone, I wired thousands of dollars to cover the never let them go." taxes. Only after sending the money did it Other psychological tactics scammers occur to her she never entered a "Jamai- employ include scarcity - "There are only can lottery." a limited number of these rare gold coins One Eastport women attending the pre- available"; source credibility- "I am call- sentation recently got a lottery winning THREATENING SKIES over Head Harbour Passage, as seen recently from Eastport. (Kevin Critchley photo) Off- son Savi SNht Learn more at DeadRiver.com/OffSeasonSavings or call 1-855-317-4837 * Offer availab~ through Augus~l 3 I, 2018. Ai)p~ies to one propane heating system per Angle ramie" residence. Free propane ga!~on5 (up to 150) based upon amour.t of product the tank will take at first fi~. Terms and condW, ons ap~y. Ftease contact us for full details. Propane Heating Oil Service, Installation Delivering on A promise." phone call. Knowing she had not entered any lotteries, the woman challenged the caller. "Walmart automatically entered your name," the caller explained. The woman wisely hung up the phone. Top scam schemes include identity theft, phony and deceptive banking and lending, and debt collection by imposters. Identity theft occurs when personal infor- mation is stolen and used to open bank accounts, acquire credit cards, secure loans, establish utility service and even get a home mortgage. Personal information includes address and phone number, Social Security number, bank account numbers and Inter- net usemames and passwords. The primary phony banking schemes are check scams, m person receives a check from someone he does not know with instructions to keep a small portion of the money and wire the rest back. The letter may explain that the sender is out of the country and unable to process the check himself. The check or money order looks authentic, at times fooling busy bank tellers. When the check bounces, the vic- tim owes the bank any money he with- drew. The National Consumer League emphasizes, "There is no legitimate rea- son for someone who is giving you mon- ey to ask you to wire money back - that's a clear sign it is a scam." The sign was clear to a First National Bank teller when a local woman appeared with a $4,000 check, said she was to keep $400 and send $3,600 back. Branch manager Taft Cam- ick grimaced, "One of the most difficult tasks bank staff confront is convincing a person in a heightened emotional state that the $4,000 check she wants to deposit is not legitimate or that the IRS is not going to take her to prison if she does not take a loan to send them money immediately." Donahe related a personal experience with phony debt collection. Earlier in the day he received a call informing him he owed the IRS $4,000 and there was a fed- eral warrant out for his arrest. The scam- mer was not aware Donahe is Eastporrs police chief. The Eastport Police Department itself was the center of a recent "charity scam." A local resident received a letter from the department asking for a much needed do- nation. She brought the letter to city hall to inquire if Abbott had any information about the department's financial woes. Abbott, not aware of any police fundrais- ing campaign, investigated the address on the return envelope and discovered it was located in New York. "Skimming" is a scam that is of partic- ular concern for travelers. A scammer with an iPad or similar device simply passes by a person in an airport, mall or other public place and captures all the personal infor- mation stored in' the chips on a person's credit cards. The scammer then imprints cards with his name and the stolen ac- count information. Returning from a trip to Freeport, Abbott discovered her per- sonal and Eastport city credit cards had been skimmed. She sorted out the prob- lem and now carries her credit cards in protective sleeves that block skimming devices. Wallets and passport covers are available to protect chip-embedded per- sonal information. Wrapping credit cards in aluminum foil also provides protection PEMBROKE IRVING Open 7 Days a Week Mon.-SaL, 4 a.m.-closing Sun 5 a.m.-closing Route 1, Pembroke, ME 726-5103 from skimmers. Installing phony card slots on ATMs and gas pumps is another technique scam- mers have devised to steal personal infor- mation from credit and debit cards. A scammer places a well-disguised device over the credit card slot and later returns to retrieve the device, now containing per- sonal information from slot users. East- port banks regularly check to assure no one has tampered with their ATMs. But Camick warns, "Nothing is safe. Always check to see if you can pull anything off the ATM machine." When "nothing is safe," what steps must a person take to protect themselves? All scammers agree that their victims share common traits. "They are easily ex- citable, don't consider it is a scam, don't ask questions and don't read information." When targeted by telephone, it is recom- mended a person takes a step back to calm down, does not get into a heightened emo- tional state, does not let the caller control them, asks more questions than they an- swer, and has a refusal script prepared for unwanted callers. Abbott assured program attendees that "the IRS and Medicare are never going to call you on the telephone." A bank, if transactions are suspicious, may contact a customer by phone and ask them to come to the bank in person. Camick explained, "The First fraud department has an 800 number that will appear on a caller ID. This call is safe to answer." First National Bank's April Theriault added, "The thing to do if you have any questions is to come into the bank in person." "The best way to avoid problems is to keep personal information away from peo- ple with criminal intent," advises Abbott. Steps to protect your information include never giving out personal information in texts, emails or over the phone, storing PINs and passwords in a safe place, and not disclosing PINs to anyone for any rea- son. Because scammers also acquire per- sonal information by stealing mail or retrieving mail from trash, removing mail promptly from the mailbox and shredding mail are recommended. For those without a shredder, Eastport holds an annual shredding event. Monitoring mail and bank statements is essential. If bills do not arrive as expect- ed, investigate whether mail is being sto- len. "Online banking and electronic payments can minimize risk of personal information being transferred by paper mail," suggests Camick. Suspicious charges on bank statements often indicate troubles. A scammer might run a test charge for a $2.50 cup of coffee. When the victim does not notice the small charge, the scammer begins to charge more expensive items. Donahe described a useful app bank customers can down- load that sends a mobile alert notification each time a credit card is used. For identity theft or unwanted access to credit reports, a credit freeze allows a per- son to restrict access to their credit report, making it more difficult for identity thieves to open accounts and access credit in a stolen name. More information about credit freezes is available at the website . Signing up for the Do Not Call Registry at or 888-382-1222 will reduce scam phone callers but not elimi- nate them. Abbott was visiting with a 95- year-old Eastport woman when the woman received a phone call from her "grandson" in Florida. He had a car wreck, he was hurt and he needed money wired immediately. Fortunately, Abbott and the woman knew the grandson was safely down the road in Eastport. "No matter how urgent a situation appears, never wire money in response to a phone call," Ab- bott counseled. In the coming weeks, the committee will be offering the Fraud Watch Network presentation at Eastport's Senior Center.