‘Just keep your brain engaged and guard up’
Ted Hubert
Every day a Texan is victimized by a con artist. Often the victim is blindsided. Warnings about frauds, scams, and schemes fall on deaf ears or the feeling nothing like this will happen to us.

We live in an environment that subjects us to many temptations lurking in the minds of con artists. Would you recognize a scam, if you saw one? Do you remember ways to identify and separate good deals from scams and other criminal activities?

Examine opportunities carefully. When you are contacted by a “business representative” you must take their word for who they are and where they are employed.

Not knowing them, places you in a distinct disadvantage.

The con artist is more ignorant about your personal life than they want you to believe. They use the power of suggestion to trick you into giving out information you would not willingly divulge otherwise.

Watch and listen for salutations like: “Dear Friend, Dear Sir, Welcome” or maybe none at all. The absence of personal information should alert you about the need to phish (fish) for more information from you.

This is the time to hang up the telephone, tear up the mail, delete the e-mail, or slam the door.

Always keep your brain engaged and your guard up. Dropping your guard will leave you open to a sucker punch.

Never send money via wire, give money to some carrier dispatched to collect a “debt,” or any contrived excuse to part you from your money.

The bait is usually a large sum of money you won or inherited, an easy loan you receive although you did not apply for a loan, a contest you won without entering the contest, or getting some great deal for doing absolutely nothing.

Protect your Social Security Number, Bank Account Numbers, and other sensitive information given uniquely to you.

What do you do when it’s a family member that has fallen for a scam?

People want to believe in the possibility of becoming a millionaire overnight without risks or effort.

It may be ver y dif ficult to explain to someone that the foreign lottery is a hoax.

When it is out of your hands, call the Texas Attorney General’s office at (800)252-8011.

A police officer may possess more credibility when explaining a criminal activity to the potential victim than you.

Seeing a law enforcement offi- cer in uniform is very persuasive.

Another method may be used if the victim is a law-abiding citizen. Just explain that it is unlawful in the USA for anyone to receive proceeds from a foreign lottery.

When you do determine that you are dealing with a con artist, just separate yourself from them as quickly as you can.

The temptation is to call them and give them a piece of your mind. This is not recommended. You will be much safer by following the advice just given.

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2010-09-16 digital edition

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