6 On Your Side Answers: New scams target people of all ages

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Federal Trade Commission estimates Americans lost close to $1.5 billion in scams just last year.

Jennifer in West Knoxville asks: “Can you give us your list of new scams that target people of all ages?”

Let’s start with Facebook, the very popular social media site. It’s also become a favorite of cyber criminals who are constantly tweaking their scams.

Have you ever received a “friend” request on Facebook from someone you thought was already your friend? If you hit “accept,” you may have just friended a scammer.

A popular recent scam has been the theft of people’s online identities to create fake profiles, which can be used in a variety of ways such as through the Facebook lottery scam.

Be careful on social media sites. Keep your privacy settings high and don’t share confidential information, like when you are going on vacation this summer.

This is one we’ve warned you about before. Your phone rings and the person on the line identifies himself as a representative from your local electric, water or gas company.

You are told you’re late on your bill and you need to pay immediately or your utilities will be cut off.

Instead of accepting payment by credit card or check, the caller wants you to pay with a GreenDot Moneypak card, which allows the scammer to steal the funds and disappear.

Utility companies will never call you and threaten immediate service disconnection. Instead, a lengthy process usually takes place, typically involving multiple written notices about a delinquent account.

Wouldn’t it be exciting to receive a call from the government informing you that you’ve been approved to receive a federal grant to pay for school, home repairs or unpaid bills?

The federal grant scam never seems to go away. In these schemes, the caller guarantees you a government grant. Here is the key: you are asked to pay a fee for their service.

Rather than supplying you with the promised grant money, the scammer only sends you a list of government agencies where grant applications can be obtained, usually for free.

6 On Your Side interviewed a man last year who lost close to $10,000 to this scam, believing he was getting free money for college. Don’t become a victim.

You can see Don Dare’s 6 On Your Side Answers every Tuesday and Thursday on 6 News at 4:00.

If you have a question you can send Don an email at ddare@wate.com or call his 6 On Your Side hotline at (865) 633-5974.

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