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Be on alert for scammers

Unfortunately, devious folks are hard at work figuring out new ways to relieve you of your money. Sad but true — scammers have no morals and no qualms about taking as much as they can get from you.

Some scams involve getting hold of your bank account details; others seek out your personal information. A common scam is an email that is supposedly from your bank asking you to click on a link to confirm your bank details and password. Clicking on links or attachments in emails from people you don’t know puts you at risk of your computer becoming infected by viruses, trojans or other malware.

Here are a few basic steps to protect your identity, bank account and financial security.

•\ If an offer seems too good to be true — it probably is.

• Never share your Social Security number, bank account or credit card information with someone you don’t know.

• Know who you are dealing with — technology has made it easy for scammers to disguise or spoof their phone number or create a website that looks very legitimate. Do an online search for the company name and website and look for consumer reviews. It is best to do business with websites you know and trust.

• Set up a security code with your bank and credit card providers to further protect your identity.

• Read all contracts and paperwork before you sign it. Make sure you understand what you’re signing. If you don’t know, don’t sign.

• Never pay money to get a loan or win a lottery or sweepstakes. If you are asked for money up front, this should be a huge red flag. Just say no.

• Letters or emails that ask you to help transfer money into your bank account or wire money out of the country are scams. Don’t respond to these requests.

• If you receive a check in the mail telling you that you have won an unexpected prize, don’t cash it. The check is probably fake and you will be out the money once you cash it.

If scammers would spend as much time trying to earn a living as they do ripping us off, the world would be a much better place. It does take time to be a well-informed consumer, but the consequences of not paying attention can be devastating. Attorney General Mark R. Herring has news, alerts and tips on protecting your identity. To find out more visit www.oag.state.va.us/consumer-protection.