It would be lovely to report that scams are a thing of the past, but we don’t live in a dream world.
From the latest round of fraud involving cashier’s checks in our sister state to the Russian password hack, fake court notices, and bar complaint scam, scammers will
always find a way.
One of the best resources for scam prevention comes from the agency charged with doing something about this consumer menace, the FTC. From the scam alert home page, you can:
- Subscribe to scam alerts by email
- Browse scams by topic
- Report a scam (which too few of us bother to do – scroll to the bottom of the page)
Remember the classic signs of an email scam, which continue to be the most common:
- The source is not a known client
- The potential client is outside the U.S. and can “only communicate by email.”
- The information given seems legitimate, until you independently verify it
- The potential client’s story is ever-changing [I have a dispute or debt collection matter, oh, before I could sign your engagement letter we were able to settle it.]
- The potential client wants you to deposit a cashier’s check or money order today and wire the proceeds tomorrow
It bears repeating:
- You can always pick up the phone if you receive a suspicious email, even from someone you know. A PLF staffer did this recently when he received an email directing him to download a document from a lawyer’s Google Drive account. Upon contacting the lawyer by phone, he learned the lawyer’s email had been hacked.
- Install, update, and use anti-malware, anti-virus, and other security software.
- Be equally wary of phone calls that threaten action if you do not immediately provide credit card information. Remember the phone scam that hit Washington lawyers? Scammers have posed as the IRS, bar staff trying to collect bar dues, the sheriff seeking to fine someone for not showing up for jury duty, etc. etc. No state or federal agency collects payment for legitimate debts over the phone. If you are worried about a potential fine or purported collection account, hang up and independently call the agency who appears to be contacting you.
- Scammers will also exert the effort to appear in person on your doorstep. See, “Phake Trust Accounts,” New Twists on Scams: Call Me Maybe (Not!). Be prepared!
[All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis]
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