Rarely does a day go by that we in the Chronicle newsroom aren’t discussing scams.
Advances in technology have made it easier than ever for con artists to cheat us out of our hard-earned money, and it doesn’t look to let up any time soon. In fact, the state has a portion of its website dedicated solely to identifying the various scams, schemes and swindles affecting Tennesseans.
Our best defense is educating ourselves and others about fraudsters' tactics and to carefully guard our personal information.
The elderly and disabled are particularly vulnerable to thieves who have stepped up their game from offering goods, services and prizes to making claims of unpaid bills, posing as charitable organizations and even threatening arrest, prosecution or litigation under the guises of agencies such as Social Security or the Internal Revenue Service.
Diligence is key in protecting ourselves and our information from those intending to steal our money.
• Government agencies will rarely call you without first initiating contact by mail ― and they will never threaten arrest on the phone or online.
• Gift cards are not accepted as currency for taxes, hospital or utility bills, or debt collection.
• Be wary of callers claiming a friend or loved one is in trouble and needs money immediately. Hang up and verify the claim with someone who would know and whom you trust.
• It's not a prize if they ask you to pay. Never agree to pay taxes or fees on winnings offered via phone or online.
• Most importantly, carefully guard your personal information. That includes your Social Security number, bank account and credit/debit card numbers, address and date of birth. Do not give them to anyone who calls, emails or requests them via social media, no matter how polite or threatening.
The best advice, though, is to simply hang up. Or, even better, don't answer calls from unknown numbers.
Spread the word. The more we know, the less likely we'll be victims ― and we can put them out of "business" for good.