Don’t become a victim

Fraud is an increasingly common problem in our world

An email arrives offering financial rewards if the recipient follows a few simple instructions. The telephone rings and a friendly voice promises a free trip or some other enticing reward. But first some personal information must be provided.

Just about all of us have been on the receiving end of similar tempting offers. In rare cases, they might actually be legitimate. In most, however, it is an attempt by some unscrupulous person to obtain money or personal information that will facilitate a theft, fraudulent purchase or some other unsavory act.

Sadly, such scams are all too frequent in 21st century America.

Last Wednesday, a Fraud Fighters Forum was held in Fort Dodge at the Best Western Starlite Village Inn & Suites. This informational event was presented by the Iowa Insurance Division, the Iowa attorney general’s office, the Iowa Department on Aging and AARP. The goal was quite simply to help people avoid becoming fraud victims.

Speakers provided a detailed overview of situations that should raise a suspicion of fraud. Their advice, however, was quite straightforward: When in doubt, slow down and make a call before committing to anything.

Doug Ommen, Iowa’s insurance commissioner, said the three most important things to remember are to call someone to check up on offers, slow down — there’s no decision that has to be made “today” — and to not be alone. He said scammers try to push their victims to commit right away, and to isolate them from friends or family who might ask questions about the decision.

That’s advice all of us should heed.

The Messenger thanks the sponsoring agencies for conducting this useful forum. We urge our readers to exercise extreme caution and prudence when responding to offers that seem too good to be true. Quite often they will in reality be the work of a scammer — not an exciting opportunity.