The COVID 19 pandemic and the surrounding uncertainty has led to an increase in scams, resulting in a record number of consumer fraud complaints in 2020. According to NYS Attorney General Letitia James, “Consumers who have helped identify and report issues to our office have been invaluable partners in our efforts to stop deceptive scams and will continue to be vital partners going forward”.
One of the scams that has been most emergent is the “Grandparent Scam”, targeting senior citizens with calls from fraudsters posing as a grandchild of the victim and asking for money. Many grandparents have not seen their grandchildren for months, due to COVID and are hence more vulnerable. Do not be deceived as scammers create a sense of urgency to prey on victim’s emotions; verify any supposed emergency – NEVER send money before verifying that it is a legitimate emergency; be SUSPISICOUS of anyone who calls unexpectedly asking for money to be sent and NEVER send cash through the mail. Do NOT transfer money or purchase pre-paid debit or gift cards.
If you have received a call from a supposed family member, ask a question that only that relative would know the answer to, for example “what was the name of your first pet”?
During these unprecedented times, data shows an increase in text message scams, known as “smishing”. Scammers have turned to text message scams, as the average person has become savvy enough to spot an e-mail scam. The tactics of a text message scam are virtually identical to those used in a standard e-mail phishing scam. The scammer sends a text message with a link to potential victims. The message normally invites the potential victim to verify account details, make a payment, or claim a prize. Text messages are short, which leaves little room for obvious spelling or grammar mistakes.
Here are six things to keep in mind the next time you receive an unsolicited text message that invites you to click a link.
Be careful and be skeptical of any text messages you receive that aren’t from friends or acquaintances.
During these times it is vital we stay vigilant against such scams. If you feel you have been the victim of a scam file a complaint by completing and submitting an online complaint form with the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau (https://ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/Filing-a-Consumer-Complaint) or by calling (800) 771-7755.
Due to her extensive experience as a former nurse and as a member of the small business community, Legislator Kennedy has strived to put the needs and welfare of her community first, especially the most vulnerable. Legislator Leslie Kennedy’s office is here to assist at 631-854-3735 and works to help protect the citizens of Suffolk County.
Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy represents the 12th Legislative District, encompassing Smithtown, Nesconset, Hauppauge, the Village of the Branch, Lake Grove, parts of Commack, Ronkonkoma, Lake Ronkonkoma and Centereach. Legislator Kennedy was born and raised on Long Island, is a former nurse and small business manager, and has dedicated her life toward the betterment of our community. She currently serves on the following committees: Environment, Parks & Agriculture; Veterans & Consumer Affairs; Fire, Rescue and Emergency Medical Services & Preparedness; Government, Operations, Personnel, Information Technology & Diversity; Education & Labor; Public Safety; Ways & Means; and Health (Vice Chair).