Avoid scams with common sense measures

Winchester and Clark County were recently the subject of yet another attempt at scamming.

The phone calls came all around town early last week from people claiming to be with Kentucky Utilities or a police chief association.

The KU scam warned people their utilities would be cut off unless a bill was paid within 45 minutes. The other solicited money on behalf of the Kentucky Chiefs of Police.

Winchester Police warned against the scam Wednesday, and Capt. Harvey Craycraft gave some sound advice when he encouraged people to simply hang up when receiving phone calls of the sort. He also advised against ever giving personal information, including credit card payment information, over the phone.

Scamming attempts vary in type and method — from claims that you owe money to various businesses or even the IRS to attempts to get you simply say “yes” to basic question — and it can sometimes be difficult to discern between legitimate calls and scams.

However, some common sense measures can be taken to avoid falling victim to scams.

The Federal Trade Commission offers some basic tips to avoid scams or fraud.

— Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call or an email.

— Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.

You can also use caller ID to screen your calls. Don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers. If the call is important, the caller will likely leave a message that you can listen to and determine whether to call back about a legitimate matter or avoid potential fraud.

— Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit or Vanilla. Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.

It is also wise to regularly check your bank and credit card statements, as well as your telephone and cell phone bills, for unauthorized charges.

Scammers will inevitably find a variety of ways to trick people out of money, but implementing some of these recommendations may help you avoid such problems.