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Avoid those scams!

Scam PhotoCrooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. They often combine new technology with old tricks to get people to send money or to share personal information.

Whether the scam involves phony winnings from a fake sweepstake or a threat to have you arrested for supposed nonpayment of taxes, don’t take the bait.

For example, you may receive a call from a scammer claiming to be representing your local electric cooperative, stating you need to pay your bill by sharing a credit card number or other information immediately or your power will be disconnected. This is not a scenario your actual electric cooperative will ever follow.

Your electric cooperative will never call you and ask you for your credit card number or personal information over the phone. Your cooperative offers various methods for payments, and those methods should be used by members. If you are unsure about a call or are asked for personal information from a caller, hang up. Then call your local electric cooperative to get the proper information about the status of your account and payment options.

Unfortunately, there are many ways a scam artist will try to con you out of your money. The North Dakota attorney general’s office lists a few of the scams circulating in North Dakota on its website at https://
attorneygeneral.nd.gov/consumer-resources/commonscams.

A few simple precautions can help prevent scam artists from being successful. The North Dakota attorney general’s office shares other information you need to know:

1.  Scam artists pretend to be people we want to trust, like government officials, law enforcement, bank staff, utilities or even family members.

  • Never give out personal information or send money in response to an unexpected contact, no matter how urgent it may seem.

2.  Don’t trust your caller ID. It may not be who you think it is.

  • Readily available technology makes it easy to create a fake name and number to display on caller ID or as the “sender” of a text message. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.

3.  If you are asked to send or wire money, or to buy prepaid cash cards, stop!

  • A legitimate government agency or business will never ask you to wire money, buy prepaid cards (including prepaid gift cards) or deposit money into another person’s account.
  • As soon as you complete the transaction or read the numbers from the back of the prepaid card, your money is gone. It is not possible to get that money back.

4.  Hang up, every time.

  • Don’t “press 1” to be taken off a call list; all it does is confirm that you listened to the message, which will result in more calls.
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