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Tips on how to "scam-proof" your life

LA's Attorney General offers tips to avoid scammers (Source: James "Buddy" Caldwell's Office) LA's Attorney General offers tips to avoid scammers (Source: James "Buddy" Caldwell's Office)

The Louisiana Attorney General offers some tips to protect yourself from scammers and con artists. Outgoing AG Buddy Caldwell says as people make resolutions for 2016, resolve to stay safe from people who may want to take your money.

Caldwell's office offered the following tips:

Don't reply to messages asking for personal or financial information.  It doesn't matter whether the message comes as an email, a phone call, a text message, or an ad. Don't click on links or call phone numbers included in the message, either. This is most likely phishing, a scheme in which the crooks behind these messages are trying to trick you into revealing sensitive information. 
Know that wiring money is like sending cash. Con artists often insist that people wire money - especially overseas - because it's nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money. Don't wire money to strangers, to sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment, or to anyone who claims to be a relative or friend in an emergency and wants to keep the request a secret.
Read your monthly statements. Scammers steal account information and then run up charges or commit crimes in your name. If you see charges you don't recognize or didn't authorize, contact your bank, card issuer, or other creditor immediately.
Give only to established charities. In the aftermath of a disaster, give to an established charity, rather than one that has sprung up overnight. Pop-up charities may not have the infrastructure to get help to the affected areas or people. 
Don't send money to someone you don't know.   Do not send money to an online seller you've never heard of — or an online love interest who asks for money. It's best to do business with sites you know and trust. 
Check out companies. Type the company or product name into your favorite search engine with terms like "review," "complaint," or "scam." 
Never pay fees upfront for the promise of a big pay-off later.  Whether it's for a loan, a job, a grant or a so-called prize, scam artists will take your money and disappear.
Report scams.  If you think you may have been scammed, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 351-4889.

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