Every year millions of Americans are hit by scams both online and over the phone. Last year, scam artists stole billions of dollars from hard-working Americans, according to a recent study.
The Better Business Bureau says they do tend to see a peak in scams during the holiday season. Last year, Idahoans lost over $20,000 due to the holiday scams.
This year, unfortunately, one woman tells KTVB she lost even more than that within a couple of days.
“How much are we talking here?,” KTVB asked.
“$30,000,” Jean Allmon replied.
An entire life savings gone in a matter of 48 hours.
“I'm sorry, but I feel stupid for falling victim to this,” Allmon said.
Allmon received several voicemails last week from a Maryland number, and after the second one, decided to call it back.
“Well ma'am, there are federal criminal charges filed against you for all these felony charges,” Allmon said.
Allmon says the person on the other line had said she must have fallen victim to identity theft and transferred her to who she thought was a United States Marshal.
“Very practiced in this, I mean he knew exactly, didn't stutter, didn't' hesitate or anything,” Allmon said.
The man told her to withdraw money out of her account, as well as purchase thousands of dollars in Walmart gift cards.
“He kept saying you can't tell anybody or it's going to jeopardize your case, So, I don't know, I didn't know what to do, but to just follow his directions,” Allmon said.
It’s a tactic almost every scam artist uses.
“They put a lot of pressure on you, you have to do this right now or we can't take your money any other time, that's a really big one,” Veronica Craker with the Better Business Bureau said.
Craker added that anytime someone is calling you and asking you for personal information, it should serve as a red flag.
“Pay with PayPal or gift cards, that's another red flag and one they like to use a lot because then they get their money instantly,” Craker said.
Also, don’t believe everything you see either, nowadays people can fake caller ID. KTVB even put it to the test using a spoof site. We had Craker call Dean Johnson’s cell phone with her cell phone, and when she did, the KTVB newsroom number showed up on his phone, instead of Craker’s cell phone number.
“When anybody asks you for personal information over the phone or online, no matter how legitimate it sounds, you have to be careful,” Craker said.
The best way to protect yourself in any situation is to hang up and call the agency directly.
“If you haven't received anything in the mail from the IRS, or the sheriff's office, or anyone saying you owe money or you have a fine and you just get a phone call out of the blue, hang up the phone and contact the agency direct,” Craker said.