One Parkersburg resident learned the hard way last week about scams that are increasing in frequency and creativity, across the country. She is certainly not the only person in our area to have fallen victim to such a scheme, but her example was full of red flags that could keep others from suffering the same fate.
It is a shame to have to say it, but a good rule of thumb in dealing with unsolicited contact from folks we do not know these days is to put up the defenses immediately. We simply cannot afford to approach such conversations from a perspective of trust. Too often, trust becomes gullibility.
In hindsight, it may seem obvious that a person who claimed to be calling from the Internal Revenue Service would not be threatening immediate arrest upon first contact, nor would he or she instruct a person to go to a particular drug store, in order to purchase a specific kind of money card, and to maintain cell phone contact during the transaction. But scammers know which words scare the average American. They know just the thought of having landed on the IRS’s bad side is enough to send the adrenaline spiking. And, they know many of us are not well enough versed in the workings of corporate and government bureaucracy to be comfortable questioning such a request.
Parkersburg Police Department detective Lt. G.D. Nangle said “Any time someone calls demanding payment of any kind on a Green Dot card, immediately hang up the phone. You are being scammed. … No reputable company will ever demand payment on a Green Dot card.”
That may serve as a good enough warning, for now, but scammers will find another way sooner than we think. Whether dealing with someone over the phone or knocking at your door, always turn up the skepticism to its highest level. If something does not seem right, question it. Trust your instincts, not the person testing them.