The deviousness of financial manipulations is astonishing, and it is amazing how often it works. Rick Kahler, head of Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, S. D., has a sharp eye for such schemes. Here are his suggestions to stop being taken advantage of.
Larry Light: People in this era are very distrustful. It’s surprising that we still get taken in by cons.
Rick Kahler: Fraudulent activities have been around since the advent of money. When I used to read stories about scams, I wondered why the victims were easy to deceive. I thought it was due to their lack of education, elderly age, or recent bereavement. However, this isn’t always true.
Research seems to indicate that 20% of the elderly have been victims of email fraud, which implies that no one is exempt from being scammed. This is due to the psychological tactics used by scammers to prey on our need to be helpful. Generally, they use this to their advantage.
Question: What are some of the most commonly seen scams?
Kahler: When it comes to shipping and mailing, be cautious if you receive any emails or text messages that look like they are from UPS, FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service. There are cons that involve sending notifications that require you to pay a fee for a failed delivery, which is an effort to trick you into going to a counterfeit site asking for your credit or debit card details.
Hold on to any receipts that have a tracking number in case you need to track down a misplaced package. Additionally, it is wise to inform the person receiving the package of the tracking number and the date of delivery to prevent any packages from being taken by “porch pirates”.
Instead of putting checks or gift cards in your home mailbox, it’s safer to mail them at the post office or a drop box. I had a friend whose check was stolen out of her mailbox, and the payee and amount had been changed. Luckily, an observant teller noticed the discrepancy and informed the police of the thieves’ car, and the criminals were caught. Furthermore, checks can be used for identity theft or even sold in the dark web.
Light: Oh no! What other things?
Kahler: Scammers often use the family-member-in-need tactic to target grandparents. For example, they may call and pretend to be the “oldest grandson,” asking for money due to an urgent situation. Additionally, a similar scam involves sending random text messages posing as a family member who lost their phone. Upon receiving a response from a parent stating “this is my new number,” they will then make a request for money related to the phone being lost.
My client received a call from someone pretending to be her oldest grandson, but she quickly recognized his voice. She didn’t give away his name, as the scammer wanted, and instead responded with a simple “Oh?”. She proudly declared that she had won the battle when the scammer hung up on her.
Light: It’s great news that emotions are a powerful tool for criminals to utilize.
Kahler: Fraudulent charitable organizations may employ tactics such as pretending to be popular charities or creating names that are similar to real ones. They may also use tragic events, like the war in Ukraine or natural disasters, to tug on our heartstrings and solicit donations. However, one should be wary of any unfamiliar charity names, suspicious-looking websites, and texts or emails from unknown sources. If you come across an unexpected message requesting donations, it is best to independently search for a legitimate charity and donate directly on their website.
Heed caution when it comes to potential scammers; it is wise to be suspicious.
Rather than copying the same words, a different structure can be used to express the same idea without plagiarizing. For example, instead of saying “The cat jumped over the fence”, one could say “The feline leapt across the barrier”. This changes the structure of the sentence without altering the semantic meaning.