Consumer Corner Column

Consumer Corner: Don’t fall for email scams

Release Date: Feb 04, 2013

By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt

Email messages have become an important part of our daily routines, making communication easier and faster in both our personal and professional lives. But not all email messages are what they appear to be. Scammers are out to make a quick buck by distributing emails in which the sender purports to be someone known to the recipient and is asking for money to be sent to them.

Sometimes, the email sender will try to convince the recipient that a friend or family member is in danger or is stranded with no money. There are countless stories that can be told in an effort to increase the chances of the email recipient responding.

The Kansas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division warns Kansans to watch out for such emails. Don’t be fooled by a criminal trying to take advantage of your generosity or sympathy.

We have heard about con artists posing as an acquaintance traveling abroad who has supposedly been robbed and is stranded in need of cash. Other scammers pretend to be a relative in need of immediate money for bail or lodging fees. Approach these situations with caution. Never give out personal or financial information. In most cases, it is wise to completely avoid responding to suspicious emails.

Con artists use a number of convincing and effective schemes to get your money. One of the most common of these schemes involves the use of money wire transfers. Money transfers are preferred by scam artists because, once the transfer is initiated, the funds are available immediately for pick up anywhere in the world and are untraceable. By following a few simple tips, you can avoid becoming a victim.

  • Always know who you're wiring money to. Be suspicious of any request that requires you to wire money to a stranger. Even if the request appears to come from or on behalf of a friend or relative, be skeptical.
  • Avoid wiring money to anyone outside the country. Verify "emergencies" with other family or friends before you wire money. Once the money is sent, it is virtually impossible to cancel the transaction and recover your money.
  • Immediately delete all suspicious emails, and never open email attachments or click on links from unknown sources.
  • Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them regularly. Some emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge.

For more information about consumer-related issues, or to file a complaint, visit www.ag.ks.gov or call the Consumer Protection Division's hotline at 1-800-432-2310.

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