Friday, February 23, 2018

Ray Dale

Wake up to online bait

Literary Junction
Most people would not purposely hurt another person for personal gain, but there are times when I am truly amazed at the depths to which some will sink to victimize their fellow human beings.
This last week, a patron came in asking for help opening up an email account. 
After we got it set up, the patron wanted help with a matter that had been received in the mail. It turns out, it was a loan application this particular patron had not even asked for. Anyway, after going to the website, the patron began filling out the application. It started out like any other application, online or otherwise. It wanted the name, address, phone number email address and more. 
Then red flags began flying up. It wanted a savings account number and a routing number. The most blatant issue was when it asked for a social security number. It became obvious just how much of a scam this was, when the interest rate was finally revealed: 835 percent. That’s not a typo. This patron would have had to pay this loan back in one year and, by the time it was paid off, the total amount paid back would have been $4,600 for a loan of $600. At that point, I stepped in and said, “You really don’t want to do this. You need to exit out of this site right now.”
My first reaction was anger. How can a person sleep at night when they do this kind of thing to other people? I have heard of all kinds of cases where heartless people will victimize someone who may not know better, but this was the first time I had seen it firsthand. Their most common target are the elderly, who are usually on a fixed income and would have a hard time financially recovering from something like this.
I talked to a local lawyer that day and asked if he had any legal advice with regards to these kinds of scams. He pretty much echoed the tips often given on television and the radio. First of all, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. You simply will not receive an offer from someone in the mail unless that someone stands to make a significant profit. That profit will most assuredly be at your expense.
The other thing the lawyer stressed was to protect your personal information. Be especially careful to whom you give your social security number. No reputable company will randomly contact you and ask you to divulge that kind of information. When someone asks for such information, you can bet that they are out to scam you.
Right now, with people receiving income tax refunds and the like, scammers will prey on the unsuspecting, trying to separate you from your hard-earned money. The most infuriating part of this is they have no problem with causing anyone complete financial ruin. We at the Big Horn County Library want to encourage everyone to be diligent and protect yourselves from harm.