Don’t Be Scammed — Part 1: Be Alert

Don’t Be Scammed — Part 1: Be Alert
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(Editor's Note: This is the first in a three-part series on avoiding financial fraud of all types. Check out Part II here, and check out Part III here.)


I’ve been developing a presentation lately about frauds and scams. The reach of these crooks is so pervasive it’s impossible to write about any specific threats. Everything is a threat. Here are some universal lessons to stay alert.


Never speak to anyone you do not know. If called, hang up. If emailed, delete. If they come to your door, close the door. They are trained to keep you speaking and the longer they spend with you, the more convincing they will sound.


Never share any personal information with anyone. The scammers will say or do anything to make you think their “need to know” is legit. You will be convinced you need to tell them information.


[RELATED: New Survey Shows Which Military Members Get Scammed the Most]


No legitimate organization, especially government agencies, will call you, email you, or come to your door. No real organization expects payment up front, especially in some shady way like asking for a cashier check or gift cards.


Do not believe the email return address or the caller ID on your phone. Their technology can make it look like the contact is from someone you know. I received a scam phone call one night that appeared to be from my spouse.


Never click on a link or attachment in an email and do not believe the web page you are sent to. Their technology is so advanced they recreate web pages that look real, mimicking banks, government agencies, etc.


No one is coming to arrest you, garnish your money, or threaten you. That is not how real organizations work.


Sites to Reference

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About the Author

Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®
Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®

Ostrom is MOAA's former Program Director, Financial & Benefits Education/Counseling