It seems like every time you open up your email, there’s another opportunity that appears too good to pass up. Actually, it’s an opportunity to have someone rip off your credit or financial information.
I put my phone number on the Do-Not-Call list and I have to say, I’m not getting those annoying telemarketing calls during dinner any more. However, nothing has slowed the proliferation of scam email letters that flood my email box every day.
The widow of a general of somewhere desperately needs your bank number to deposit about $10 million. Lots of these letters come from Nigeria, of all places, but now you can add the Congo, China and even Spain to the list.
A friend of mine received this letter, which was mailed in an envelope that actually looks as though it comes from the land of tapas and torros. The El Gordo Spanish Sweepstakes Lottery claims he won a huge Spanish lottery. And if you’re not looking carefully, you might actually think this letter is legitimate.
Look at the colored letterhead and official looking red lottery stamp at the bottom of the letter. Its says you’ve won more than $.75 million. Great. And all you have to do is fill out the accompanying form. Surprise, surprise, the El Gordo Lottery people need your bank name, account number and all sorts of other highly personal information.
Of course there is no El Gordo Lottery, but foreign lottery scams keep fooling people into giving away their personal financial information. That’s a fast track to getting your identity stolen and pretty much ruining your life for the next couple of years.
What can you do? If you have access to the internet, you can go to the Federal Trade Commissions website and familiarize yourself with the various sorts of scams that are going on. The FTC’s website is updated regularly, so if you check in once a month or so, you’ll know what to look out for.
In the meantime, if you want to avoid these kinds of scams, never give out your basic personal financial information, like your social security number, your tax ID number, your address or your phone number.
In fact, let’s make it even easier. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. And if someone promises you a huge fortune, don’t bother responding at all.
If you’re getting mail or email like these letters, the Federal Trade Commission and Attorney General’s office want to hear from you.