You can be an instant millionaire! Publishers Clearing House is promising someone, maybe you, $5,000 per week for life. This is not a scam, but the following is a scam.
If you receive either a phone call, text message or email congratulating you on your good luck and the win, it’s a scam. Quite likely, you will be asked for either a payment of “taxes” or processing fees using a debit card or gift cards. You can call PCH, at 800-459-4724, for verification, but here is the reality.
PCH will only award major prizes in person. It will not email, text, or call you with conditions for the award, requiring personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers or passwords. In addition, if you are a winner, you will not be asked to pay fees or taxes immediately.
The charging of fees on prizes is illegal. Taxes are paid to the U.S. Treasury (IRS) and state tax agencies directly. Publishers Clearing House is well aware of these scams, and if you want further details, go to the website pch.custhelp.com.
Other popular scams continuing to trap victims are phishing scams.
Typically, these appear as text messages, emails and phone calls claiming either problems or, in the case of internet providers, malware infecting your account.
We’ve also noted numerous cases where the scam appears to be an alert from Amazon about an account or merchandise purchase. Before clicking the email link, check the sender’s address. A giveaway to the scam is an address that includes Gmail, Hotmail or Ymail. The address of any legitimate company will appear as that company name, followed by dot com (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you accidentally open the link, examine the address appearing at the top of your browser in the URL line. That address should not include the name of web services such as Weebly, Google or GoDaddy. Often, these criminals will attempt to pass off scam websites by making them appear legitimate, but as with the email address, the URL address should clearly provide the name of the company, which is usually followed by .com or .net (e.g Amazon.com, Apple.com, Comcast.net).
Other clear indications of a scam include misspellings and unusual grammar. Often, the sender is not a native speaker of American English, so, look for alternate spellings or strange word order.
It is critical to report scams. The process is easy, but it requires a little work on your part. Copy down any information, including names, companies and details. If it is a phone scam, noting the caller’s number is not necessary, since the number is likely spoofed. The exception to this is if the email, webpage or phone call provides a number to call.
There are numerous state and federal agencies that collect reports.
Based on your residency, you may also want to report the crime to state government:
• Massachusetts attorney general: mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources;
• New York attorney general: dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection;
• Vermont attorney general’s office: ago.vermont.gov/cap.
Unsure of where to go? Have questions and need assistance? Contact the AARP National Fraud Watch Network helpline at 877-908-3360.
Special alert: A classic summer scam involves home maintenance and services, including driveway repair and siding installation. Before jumping on a “great deal” (remember, “if it sounds too good to be true ...”) conduct some basic research, note details and ask questions.
Did you request information, or was the contractor “just driving by” the neighborhood? Is there a business logo with contact information on the vehicle? Can the contractor provide contact information for local references? Is the contractor licensed to do business? The criminal will want an immediate response. Don’t take the bait.
AARP is seeking Fraud Fighters of all ages. Contact the AARP Massachusetts office at 866-448-3621; the AARP New Hampshire office, 866-542-8168; the AARP New York office, 866-227-7442; or the AARP Vermont office at 866-227-7451.
Questions, concerns? Contact me at email@example.com.