BEWARE OF SCAMS!

By Attorney Robert T. Brooks      August 21, 2019

In the last 2 days I have personally received mail from a scam group and had two clients tell me about scam phone calls they have received.  In today’s world you must be suspicious of almost every piece of mail, email, or call you receive.

It only takes a minute for a scammer to acquire your information and begin to utilize it for their benefit and your detriment.  Typically, the money and personal information they receive will never be returned and the damage can last forever.  A list of scams can be found on https://www.usa.gov/common-scams-frauds.

The 3 most recent scams that I have been informed of are the following:

  1. Home Deed Scam – I personally received this one and a client reported it as well.  What occurs is you receive a letter or phone call stating that something appears to be incorrect on the deed to your house.  They offer to identify the problem and correct the issue for a fee of course.  They then request your personal information and form of payment.  Once they have it, they are then able to charge your card or deduct funds from your bank account.  If you have a question concerning the deed to your house, all you must do is go down to the local circuit court in your city/county and request a copy of it.  The court typically charges a small fee to obtain a copy of your deed.  You do not need a company to do this.
  2. Utility Scam – A client received a call on her cell phone.  The caller id on her phone said it was from Dominion Power.  She answered and the person on the line stated that she had not paid her bill and they would be there within 45 minutes to shut off her power.  They advised her the only way to stop the process was to provide her credit card or bank information immediately or go purchase a prepaid credit card with the amount owed placed on it and then provide them with the card number.  My client knew this was a scam and quickly hung up the phone.  She then called Dominion Power’s main number and confirmed her bill was current.
  3. Contest Winner Scam – Another client received a call stating he had won a large sum of money and all he had to do was pay a certain amount for the taxes and mailing fees.  This scam is very common and happens a lot.  Many elderly individuals fall for this and I personally know someone who has sent over $100,000.00 and still believes they are going to receive their payout.

The point of this post is simply to remind you to be careful.  Don’t provide your personal information over the phone, email, or paper, unless you are 100 percent sure you know exactly who you are providing that information to.  If it sounds strange or too good to be true, hang up!  In addition, if they ask, “can you hear me?”, do not say yes, because many times they are trying to record you saying yes in order to use that recording at a later date or to authorize a charge on your card. Don’t allow you or your loved one to be the next victim of a scam.  If your loved one has or continues to be a victim, but does not believe it is a scam, please contact our office to see what solution we may be able to offer to shield that individual from themselves and protect their estate.