Our View: Tips to avoid ever evolving scams, tricks

As technology evolves so do lame attempts by criminals to scam honest, hardworking people out of their money, time and more.

The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Communications Commission are warning of a new “one ring” scam targeting people in several states often calling several times in the overnight hours. 

In a press release, FCC officials warned calling the number back could result in per-minute toll charges much like “900” number calls. These calls are using the “222” country code of the West African nation of Mauritania, according to the press release. 

Generally, the “one ring” scam takes place when a robocaller calls a number and hangs up after a ring or two. They may call repeatedly, hoping the consumer calls back and runs up a toll that is largely paid to the scammer.  

The Better Business Bureau offered some tips for dealing with one-ring scams:

— DON’T call back numbers you don’t recognize, especially those seeming to originate overseas.

— If you receive one of these calls, file a complaint with the FCC at www.fcc.gov/complaints, and submit a report to BBB Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker. You can call BBB at (859) 259-1008 or 1-800-866-6668.

— If you never make international calls, consider talking to your phone company about blocking outbound international calls to prevent accidental toll calls.

— Check your phone bill for charges you don’t recognize.

Unfortunately, these one ring scams are just one type of many ways individuals attempt to scam others.

A quick look at the BBB website brings up a wide variety of potential scams, including everything from employment scams to online purchase scams, fake check scams, romance scams, government grant scams, identity theft and much more.

The BBB reports there are thousands of new scams each year, making it nearly impossible for people and agencies to keep up with them.

Putting a little caution and extra thought in how we will deal with people over the phone, with whom we share our personal information and even our interactions online can go a long way in helping protect us against scams.

Here are some basic tips from the BBB to avoid the many types of scams out there:

— Never send money to someone you have never met face-to-face, especially if they ask you to use wire transfer, a prepaid debit card or a gift card (those cannot be traced and are as good as cash).

— Don’t click on links or open attachments in unsolicited email. Links can download malware onto your computer and/or steal your identity. Be cautious even with email that looks familiar; it could be fake.

— Don’t believe everything you see. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals, fonts and other details. Just because a website or email looks official does not mean that it is. Even Caller ID can be faked.

— Don’t buy online unless the transaction is secure. Make sure the website has “https” in the URL (the extra s is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Even then, the site could be shady. Check out the company first at bbb.org. Read reviews about the quality of the merchandise, and make sure you are not buying cheap and/or counterfeit goods.

— Be extremely cautious when dealing with anyone you’ve met online. Scammers use dating websites, Craigslist, social media and many other sites to reach potential targets. They can quickly feel like a friend or even a romantic partner, but that is part of the con to get you to trust them.

— Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s over the phone, by email, on social media or even at your front door. This includes banking and credit card information, your birthdate, and Social Security/Social Insurance numbers.

— Don’t be pressured to act immediately. Scammers typically try to make you think something is scarce or a limited time offer. They want to push you into action before you have time to think or to discuss it with a family member, friend or financial advisor. High-pressure sales tactics are also used by some legitimate businesses, but it’s never a good idea to make an important decision quickly.

— Use secure, traceable transactions when making payments for goods, services, taxes and debts. Do not pay by wire transfer, prepaid money card, gift card, or other non-traditional payment method. Say no to cash-only deals.

— Whenever possible, work with local businesses that have proper identification, licensing and insurance, especially contractors who will be coming into your home or anyone dealing with your money or sensitive information. Check them out at bbb.org to see what other consumers have experienced.

— Be cautious about what you share on social media and consider only connecting with people you already know. Be sure to use privacy settings on all social media and online accounts. Imposters often get information about their targets from their online interactions, and can make themselves sound like a friend or family member because they know so much about you.