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Chamber learns more about latest scams

December 27, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO (news@breezenewspapers.com) , North Fort Myers Neighbor

One of the hottest topics that is discussed at the monthly North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Business Leaders Luncheon is identity theft and scams. Many of these businesses are small and being a victim of a scam could be devastating.

Last week, WINK News investigative reporter Allison Gormly and Katie Cribbs, executive producer of special projects, were the guest speakers. They discussed the importance of protecting your identity.

Gormly said the most important thing that people can do is simply monitor their credit. When big companies are getting their information hacked, there isn't much people can do, so you need to be vigilant.

Hackers can take your information to steal things, open new accounts, spend your money and do many other awful things. Scammers can steal your name, Social Security number, driver's license number and medical and financial records.

"Monitor what you do. Cash is great and credit cards are OK. Debit cards need to be used as credit cards," Gormly said. "If you do one credit report every three months from the three major credit bureaus, it's better than doing them all at once."

A new credit bureau called Innovis is now available to join Equifax, TransUnion and Experian and other smaller ones to score your credit rating.

If you see something unusual, each credit bureau gives instructions on what to do, Gormly said, adding that traditional mail is the way to go.

Gormly and Cribbs added that people particularly vulnerable to identity theft are the elderly, especially those who are not computer literate and don't pay their bills electronically, and children, who have no credit history.

They recommend you open up an account online, even if you like paper bills. If you have a child or a grandchild, you should request a report to make sure nothing is found and you're good to go, Cribbs said.

As for robocalls, they say that the Do Not Call lists are good for legitimate businesses, but no good for scammers. Gormly said she screens her calls and yet still gets them and there isn't anything you can do about it.

"The phone companies are trying to come up with solutions, but right now, it's screen, screen, screen," Gormly said. "If they know you're there and interact, they'll pass that number on to others. Don't mess with them."

The robocallers are now able to call you with a local area code to make it seem like a legitimate business That's called spoofing. When you call, the number is usually not in service.

It was suggested that people find a service that can identify possible robocalls or telemarketers. For a business, something like this can keep them from losing prospective clients.

Chamber members shared their stories of nearing falling for scams, such as ones on the phone which say your bank account has been frozen and you need to call a number.

John Gardner said he has gotten those messages, adding that if you check your credit though services such as Credit Karma, you end up with credit card offers.

Cribbs said there are people who say it can't happen to them, but it can happen to even the smartest people.

"I know a rocket scientist from NASA who got ripped off. These people know what they're doing. They know all sorts of ways to get into your computer," Cribbs said.

 
 

 

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