Guest column/Just use common sense ­— don’t be scammed

Scammers continue to rip off our citizens in Jefferson County. Last year alone, more than $1.5 million was scammed from our citizens, and it continues as I write this letter.

The following are some of the scams that have been prevalent in our area:

¯ People claiming to be from Publisher’s Clearing House — they promise you thousands and a new car.

¯ Your grandchild needs to be bonded out.

¯ You owe money to the Internal Revenue Service — the IRS does not call you — and they later tell you they are calling the police to have you arrested if you do not pay.

¯ They call or send you a message on your computer that you have a serious virus on your computer, and it is about to crash. They say if you send them $300 the problem will be fixed, but in reality your computer was fine.

¯ They call about giving money to police funds, fire department funds and funds for children.

¯ They call requesting money to provide care for a dying child.

These people are the lowest form of life and pull at the heartstrings of people, especially our senior citizens.

Just last week, a woman was called by one of these low-lifes and was told her son was dead. Thank God he wasn’t.

Be aware of those so-called contractors who appear at your door with sweetheart deals for fixing your roof and gutters, installing a new door or siding, paving your driveway, etc. Never pay money up front for a project. Pay when the work is done, and you’re satisfied. There are plenty of good contractors in our area — contact one of them instead of these con artists.

Let’s not forget the letters you get that state you’ve won millions, but you need to send money to get your fortune. Sometimes, I truly believe there are so many naive people who are willing to buy oceanfront property in Nebraska. Comes on folks — help me out by not sending your money. I know when you get these calls, in the back of your mind, you suspect they’re a scam, yet you still fall for it and send money.

I have written letters to the Herald-Star warning folks about these scams, and the paper always has issued warnings. Mark Law covers our complaints daily, and he personally sees the numerous scams that occur.

Again this week, two individuals gave all of their personal information to a caller. Never, never, never give your Social Security number, date of birth, bank account number or debit numbers. We receive numerous complaints about stolen identity. Protect your personal information and never give it out. You know when you hear the voice of the person calling has a foreign accent — that’s the first sign that tells you it’s a scam. If you suspect you are being scammed, call your local police department or the sheriff’s department.

How can you stop from being scammed? It’s easy — when you get that call and the caller speaks broken English, hang up. If any caller offers these great deals, hang up. You’re not going to get that BMW or Cadillac as promised. It’s your money — I’m just trying to make sure you don’t lose it.

Again, I’m not trying to discourage your giving to various charities. There are many legitimate local fundraisers, such as those conducted by the Steubenville and Wintersville lodges of the Fraternal Order of Police and the sheriff’s reserves. These are all local, and all money stays here to help children and the less fortunate. If you get calls that are for charities that are out of the area, just say no. If you want to help, give to your local church, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Red Cross or Urban Mission.

At least you know where your money is going. Please, just use common sense.

(Abdalla is the Jeffferson County sheriff.)

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