Published On: Sat, Oct 16th, 2021

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Identifying and Avoiding Scams

County Commissioner Robert Weinroth is providing the following information to residents as part of Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

Confidence games are nothing new. Scammers and ‘Con Men’ have been around long before computers were invented. However, modern technology has made it easier for criminals to interact with their victims anonymously and from a safe distance. It is more important than ever to be aware of scams and protect ourselves from becoming a victim of fraud.

The best way to avoid scammers is to understand their methods so that you can more easily identify a potential scam. It is certainly helpful to be knowledgeable and comfortable with modern technology but it’s more important to have the ability to identify the indicators of a scam regardless of the method of communication. In other words, the basic tactics of scammers are the same as they were a hundred years ago but now they have utilized computers to expand and scale-out their operations. 

There are many free public resources to help you identify and avoid scams, but the best single resource is the Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov). Their ‘Consumer Infomation’ website includes a ‘Scams’ section with an abundance of information and resources. The following tips about identifying and avoiding scams are from the FTC website:

Four Signs That It’s a Scam

  1. Scammers PRETEND to be from an organization you know.
    • Scammers often pretend to be contacting you on behalf of the government. They might use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Some pretend to be from a business you know, like a utility company, a tech company, or even a charity asking for donations. They use technology to change the phone number that appears on your caller ID. So the name and number you see might not be real.
  2. Scammers say there’s a PROBLEM or a PRIZE.
    • They might say you’re in trouble with the government. Or you owe money. Or someone in your family had an emergency. Or that there’s a virus on your computer. Some scammers say there’s a problem with one of your accounts and that you need to verify some information. Others will lie and say you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes but have to pay a fee to get it.
  3. Scammers PRESSURE you to act immediately.
    • Scammers want you to act before you have time to think. If you’re on the phone, they might tell you not to hang up so you can’t check out their story.
  4. Scammers tell you to PAY in a specific way.
    • They often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back. Some will send you a check (that will later turn out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.

What You Can Do to Avoid a Scam

  • Block unwanted calls and text messages. Take steps to block unwanted calls and filter unwanted text messages.
  • Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect. Legitimate organizations won’t call, email, or text to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers. If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy. Or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.
  • Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer.
  • Know how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or by using a money transfer service. And never deposit a check and send money back to someone.
  • Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything else, tell someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor — what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.

Stop Look Think – Don’t be fooled

About the Author

Robert Weinroth - Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. Commissioner Weinroth serves as County Vice-Mayor and has been appointed Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

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