STAMFORD, Conn. — State Sen. Carlo Leone has some simple advice for people who receive a request for personal information over the phone, on their computer or in their mailbox.
“Do not do what they’re asking you to do,” Leone, who represents parts of Stamford and Darien, told an audience gathered for a fraud prevention discussion he hosted at UConn-Stamford on Tuesday. “Take a breather, a step back.”
If the caller claims to represent a particular entity such as a business, Leone said individuals should call the entity’s published number to verify the request.
Tim Ryan of the AARP's CT Fraud Watch Network advised attendees to be wary of scams through email. Some scammers will ask individuals to divulge personal information through messages that appear to come from legitimate companies.
Ryan knows from personal experience: His wife recently received a request for personal information purporting to come from a bank.
"She got an email [appearing to be] from Chase Bank asking her to click in and verify her balance," Ryan said. "The only problem there is my wife has never account a bank account with Chase Bank.”
Ryan said individuals don’t even have to respond to requests from scam artists to have their personal information stolen. They simply have to share that information over an unsecure public wi-fi spot, he said.
Some scams target specific populations such as seniors. In one common scam, a caller will tell a senior that they need to wire money to get their grandchild out of trouble.
Crimes such as these are so common that staff at post offices are specially trained to look out for unusually agitated or nervous seniors, according to one official.
Another scam preys on people who are told they have missed jury duty. In order to get out of trouble, they are told to wire money to fix the situation, according to Stamford Police Officer Paul DeRiu.
At the end of the day, DeRiu said scam artists have concocted schemes for centuries. Their storylines will continue to evolve.
“Once a scam is deflated, another one comes around the corner,” DeRiu said.
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