A 21st Century War Happening

Last Update: September 27, 2016

I was troubled by a recent post written by Loes entitled "You have to watch your back in everything" where she detailed a phone scam she was a victim of. Thankfully, she caught it early.

This made me think of other scams on the rise out there that we should all be on the look out for. One scam prevalent in certain areas involve utility bills. If a person is behind paying his utility bill, a con artist, pretending to work for the energy company, demands a cash payment to avoid the electricity being shut off.

Con artists have been know to rummage through trash obtaining old bills with account numbers and balances due. My advice? Invest in a paper shredder.

The red flag here is utility companies will never call or show up at your door demanding immediate payment in cash. And if someone does show up at your door claiming to work for the utility (or even cable) company and asks to see your bill...slam the door shut.

What's really happening ...A scammer will almost always request personal information or to view your bill to "verify" your account information. Don't fall for it. What they really are doing is collecting personal information about you they didn't have before and most likely to steal your identity.

So, what's their next move? Scammers use the personal information you just handed over to them to create "legitimate" credit cards under your name and take out as much money as they can. They'll spend that money on items they can sell for a profit. They'll also spend it on gift cards that they can sell for cash.

Another major scam involves the beloved ATM machine. Bad guys place skimmer devices over the keypads. These devices scan people's debit and credit cards at ATM machines, gas pumps. and even ATM machines in grocery stores. My advice? Never use an ATM machine that's out doors or in the open. The only one I use is inside my own bank where, on the weekends, I have to swipe my card to get in. And if you see a replacement keypad attached to the original keypad...step away.

Here's another one... This happened to me last spring. A door-to-door marketer for a new electric company in the state was selling alternative energy supply contracts. I was outside gardening and didn't want to be bothered. I told him to leave information about the company and I'd compare prices. He didn't have anything to leave but said he'd be back another day. I called the energy company and they had no such sales people or door-to-door marketers.

These scammers will take advantage of a few residents and businesses and skip town before police can pick up their trail.

I'll bet this scam has happened to you...

At every year's end we get bombarded with phone calls requesting donations for various charities, thanking us for our generous contribution made last year, and if we'd like to make the same this year. They ask for credit card information to make it "easier and convenient" for the transaction. Don't fall for this!

Legitimate charities don't work this way. We make annual charitable donations every year and it's done via the mail. Here's how to prove the legitimacy of a charity...tell them you'd love to donate and request they mail the charity's information to you. If you receive something (and notice I say IF) Google the charity to verify their contact information and mailing address. Never donate cash and after you have verified the legitimacy of the charity, make your check payable to the charity and not to an individual. I know this sounds elementary, but there are generous people out there that give first and ask questions later. I know...I'm married to one.

Cyber Warfare is Here

Over the last few years the news has been filled with reports of cyber attacks on the business level. They call it a "21st Century war happening". Every day in our country, our institutions are under cyber attack and secrets are being stolen.

Have you been a victim of certain retailers being hacked resulting in your personal information being stolen? Virtually every individual who used a credit/debit card at that retailer during a certain period of time, often months.

This is identity theft and very costly and timely to repair, often resulting in financial disaster.

Just recently YAHOO was hacked and everyone had to change their passwords immediately.

In closing...

We all need to be vigilant, carefully checking every account we have and every bill that comes in the mail. Regularly review bills as certain companies secretly add special services that we didn't sign up for or agree to.

And lastly...question added on fees. Our trash company added a "fuel surcharge fee" a few years ago when gas prices were over $5/gallon. It's still there, years later, even though gas prices have gone back down. I canceled our service and now go to the recycling center once a week.

Most of us here at WA are entrepreneurs and it would be a shame for any of us to be a victim of these crimes.

I wish you all well and stay safe,


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Ivine Premium
Hi Karen, a super post and we all have to be vigilant. Irv.
KarenDemers Premium
Thanks for your comment, Irv, and yes we do...sad but true.
Hofmeister Premium
Awesome post Karen. All key, informative issues to be aware of, and I will definitely be taking your advice concerning ATMS. Thanks.
KarenDemers Premium
Thanks, Brad, can't be too careful these days. Very sad.
JudeP Premium
Good points and help Karen. Just to add, if you do have to use an ATM which is outdoors, then be sure to shield your PIN from view :)
KarenDemers Premium
YES!! Thanks for adding that important point and thanks for reading.
MPollock Premium
Great share, Have a great week.
KarenDemers Premium
Thank you...you as well.
theresroth Premium
Thank you for these absolute vitals, Karen!

Personally, I still go to a bank teller and withdraw from and pay into my accounts. I know it's a hassle with the opening hours sometimes, but your post has made me realize that I'm still glad I'm doing it!

KarenDemers Premium
Sometimes a little inconvenience is worth the alternative.
Thanks for commenting,
Best wishes,