A friend tipped me off the other day about a new scam, just in time for the holidays. Here’s how it works: You get a cell phone call telling you that you have won a $1,000 gift card from Best Buy, or Walmart, or Target. All you have to do is give them some information so they can send it to you, and then you pay the handling charges, which are low. The way you pay the charges is by giving the caller your credit card number so they can ding your card for those charges.
You know, of course, that there is no $1,000 gift card. The only way you ever will get hold of a gift card for any amount from any of those stores is to walk in and plunk the cash down on the counter.
My friend said he already had called the sheriff, which is what you should do if you get one of those phone calls. Maybe you should say to the caller: “Hold on for just a minute, I’ve got Sheriff John Anderson on the other line.”
I got a call the other day from somebody who said he was a stockbroker and wanted me to buy shares in a company I never had heard of, and that was tremendously undervalued. I told him I had sufficient shares of companies that were tremendously undervalued. That firm’s shares, he claimed, would go up 12 percent in just two weeks. I could even wait to pay him until after he had resold the shares for me and I had pocketed the profits.
“All I need from you is your Social Security number,” he said, “so I can verify you are who you say your are.”
I said, “No, I don’t give my Social Security Number out to anybody.” He said, look, you can trust me. Here is my Social,” and he rattled it off.
“What do I want to know your Social Security number for?” I asked, and hung up. Be careful out there when you talk to strangers. None of them is likely to be Santa Claus, even if it is the Christmas season.