Tips to avoid scams.

This month I will be speaking about scams. What makes this crime so hard for the police to investigate is the unknown location of the suspect. Phone numbers are emulated so they are not the true numbers often. A few years ago the Sleepy Eye PUC number was emulated so it looked like the scammer was calling from the City of Sleepy Eye. The tricks and technology used by scammers is ever changing and evolving to always stay a step ahead of citizens and law enforcement alike.

The best advice I can give anyone is to educate themselves with the anti-scam information on the internet. Two great sites are the FBI’s: fbi.gov/scams-and-safety and AARP’s: aarp.org/ money/scams-fraud/. Both of those sites have good information and links to other support services, including phone numbers to call with information.

The second best advice I can give anyone is don’t believe anything you are told on the internet or by phone, if you aren't positive you know who the person giving the information is. This can be tough at times, but scammers are counting on citizen uncertainty to get what they want. Scammers rely on scaring victims, or telling victims what they want to hear, in order to scam money from them. Do not give anyone on the phone or internet your personal information or banking information unless you are positive you know who you are talking to. Before you do anything please check out the sites I gave, or call the Sleepy Eye Police Department, so we can assist you in making a determination whether the situation is a scam or real. We will almost always tell you it is a scam.

Here are some examples of common scams we have seen. This is by no means a definitive list as scams are ever changing.

•The IRS or FBI will not call you asking you to pay back taxes, a penalty or a fine. Those agencies or any agency will not call you to tell you a warrant will be issued if you don't pay.

•The Publishers Clearinghouse will not call you to say you won and ask for personal information.

•If you have a grandson who calls you saying they got into trouble in a distant state, please call him or his parents before you send money for his legal fees and or bail.

•If you are selling anything online get the money in cash or make sure the check clears before you give the property over. I would advise to never accept anything but cash unless you are positive you know who you are selling to.

•Nothing legitimate takes payment in gift cards or money cards from Walmart, Netspend, etc.

•If you receive a call or email from someone that has millions of dollars in a foreign country and they need a little of your money to help get their money out, and in exchange with will give you a larger amount of money, this is a scam.

•Any call or email that notifies you that you have won money but first you have to send them money is a scam.

•If anything seems to be too good to be true then it is just that, not true.

Please protect yourself at all times. Scammers are not stopping and the struggle with them will only get harder as technology changes in the future.