South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley has released multiple warnings in the last few weeks alerting South Dakotans to new or renewed scams targeting our state. As you work, travel and give back, keep these scams in mind:
- Work at Home Scams - Targeted ads offer to help consumers start their own home-based businesses. After a payment for a start-up packet, the consumer receives a cashier's check and is told to deposit it and wire some funds back to the scammer. Unfortunately, the fraudsters end up hitting your account twice when the bank eventually comes back requiring repayment of the check funds due to no account. "Be cautious of [..] scams with cashier's checks or wire transfers," Jackley warns.
- Travel Scams and Timeshare Resellers - The Attorney General encourages due diligence to avoid being duped by fake or misleading timeshare and travel packages. When considering these kinds of purchases ask many questions and get all information provided to you in writing. Also, be aware that any purchase not made at the timeshare business' physical location is considered "door-to-door" and the seller must provide a 3-day right to cancel before the transaction becomes binding.
- Charitable Giving Scams - Beware of fake charities that pop up during the holiday season or following disasters such as the Copper Lounge collapse in Sioux Falls. Always verify the legitimacy of a nonprofit by visiting sites like www.charitynavigator.org or www.guidestar.org. Do not respond to unsolicited emails and instead go directly to recognized charities or aid organizations.
We will continue to send you regular email alerts in 2017, but did you know that we also have a toll-free AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline? You can call 1-877-908-3360 anytime with your specific questions about a possible scam. They can even help if you are worried about a loved one who may be a victim!
According to our Helpline team, these are the latest scam trends across the nation:
- Government grant scams – Ads or calls that promise guaranteed government grants – that you’ll never have to pay back! The red flag: you have to provide your checking account information for the deposit. Unfortunately, such grant funds are unlikely to exist and the scammer now has access to your account. NEVER give your checking account information to anyone you don’t know.
- Facebook hacks – Have you ever gotten a friend request from someone you’re already connected to on Facebook? Chances are your friend has been hacked! Scammers hack into Facebook accounts and then, pretending to be your friend, say they are in need of your financial help. If you think a friend’s account has been hacked, alert them immediately and check your privacy settings on Facebook.
- Online romance scams – These scams start with fake profiles on dating sites. The scammer, who is conveniently working abroad, quickly builds a relationship with the target - exchanging photos, romantic messages, or even talking by phone. Then comes the ask: money needed for an emergency or maybe to plan an in-person visit. The target sends money and then never hears from the love interest again.
If you think you've been the victim of these, or other scams file a complaint with the SD Division of Consumer Protection at www.consumer.sd.gov or call 1-800-300-1986. Also, help to warn your friends and neighbors by reporting it on the AARP Fraud Watch Network scam-tracking map.
Stay vigilant during 2017 and avoid the latest scams by joining the AARP Fraud Watch Network. Anyone of any age can join for free online or to receive alerts by phone, call 1-866-542-8172.