SCAMS – How to detect and avoid them! Best Practices for Protection!

The Hot Springs Village Computer and Technology Club held an informational seminar on Thursday, March 14, at 1:00 p.m. at the Coronado Community Center. The topic of conversation was “Scams – How to detect and avoid them.” Featured speakers were HSV Technology Expert Sue Davis and Hot Springs Village Police Department Detective Mike Kliewer.

Before his two-year service with the HSVPD, Kliewer had a 17-year career in Kansas, serving in many roles, including the Chief of Police.

Kliewer said that for the population in the Village, the crime rate is extremely low, but he still manages to keep busy with his job. “One of the biggest crimes I deal with weekly are frauds and scams,” stated the Detective. He estimated that in the past two years, scammers have scammed over $300,000 from Villagers.

Davis said they have received many phone calls from Villagers who were victims of scams. Hot Springs Village is a targeted scam area. Don’t feel ashamed if you are a victim; scammers are excellent manipulators.

Scams – What you need to know

The best advice is to be suspicious, don’t give anyone personal information, including relative names, never give out your address, and if you are unsure, check with the police department. Don’t be threatened; these people are very good at what they do.

Scams come in all forms. Whether it’s your landline, cell phone, email, or internet popups. Scammers are working overtime trying to get our hard-earned money. It’s important that we all know how to navigate through to keep us safe. Some of the smartest people I know have been caught up in these scams and have lost anywhere between $200,000 to $1,000. Most people get caught when they are in a hurry or tired after a long day. Don’t be fooled by not knowing what to look for.


Don’t be fooled. Microsoft, Apple, AppleCare, Amazon, Publisher Clearing House, Medicare, and Social Security will NOT call you. They will contact you by your preferences in your accounts or at your home address. Companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon have too many accounts worldwide to worry about an individual computer or account. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will contact you by mail at your home address. Microsoft Windows will give you a popup by the clock on your Windows computer. Apple alerts you through Settings on your iPhone or iPad, putting a red flag on the icon. NEVER give any personal information or let them have access to your computer.

If you get a call and don’t recognize the number, you are better off letting it go to voicemail. If you do answer, never say Hello twice. Somehow, these folks can steal your number and call others, making it look like a local call. If, when answered, you hear a click on the line, hang up; don’t wait for them to come on the line. They don’t get paid for the call if they can’t keep you on the line for 30 seconds.

Prize Winning: If you get calls about winning a prize, if they are legitimate, they will NEVER ask you to give them money to claim your prize. Ensure you don’t share your social security number or checking or savings accounts. Have them mail your prize.

Friend, Grandson, Granddaughter: “I’m in jail and need money to get out.” Or, “We have them in jail, and they need bail”. They might be in another country and have lost their passports and money. These have been going around for a long time. NEVER give them any names. You have no idea how many people have been fooled.

Cell Phone and Tablets

If you do banking on your phone or tablet or put your passwords on them, get them locked up. There are devices out there that can scan from about 2 feet away. Scammers can pull the information and access everything if you don’t lock your phone or have passwords that are not in a secure app. For banking, you should have to type your password each time for your account. This is also true for your computers. Even though your computer can’t be scanned like a phone, if someone gets access to your computer, they, too, can access anything.

Scammers have started texting us about charges made to accounts or products we have purchased. If you have a question about charges, contact that specific company. For example, call your bank or log into your account to see what charges have been made. NEVER respond to the text. Just delete it. Some phones let you block the messenger, but not all. The best way to protect yourself is by 2-step verification. This allows you to have more security. They notify you when someone tries to log into your account by resetting the password. Amazon and Banks all use this. Although it’s a pain, it is in your best interest. Even if you don’t do banking on your phone, having a cell phone attached to your account gives them a secure way of flagging you if someone is trying to charge your account.


There are so many email scams, and it isn’t easy to list them all. The scams can involve everything from purchased products to pleas for help.

Products Purchased: If you purchase something, the email will include the product, the amount they charged, the date, and the last 4-digits of the credit card charged. There should not be an attachment to open. The key here is the card that was charged. If that is not listed, then you know they couldn’t have charged you; they didn’t have one to charge. But you can always call your credit card company to check. Never call the number on the email. They will ask for your credit card number to verify if they did charge you. Now they do have your card.

PayPal Charges: If you do use PayPal, you can log into your account to verify if something has been charged. If you don’t have an account, there is nothing for you to do. Mark the email as Spam or Junk to keep it from returning to your Inbox.

Update Your Profile: This email type always looks like a real notification. There will always be a button for you to click on to update. Never click on the button, they can steal your email address, change your reply address, and set up filters to move your message to deleted, often times they steal your address book. Legitimate companies will request you log in to your account to do what they need. The best way to verify that it is legitimate is to look for the actual email that sent it. Most email systems will show the email address if you point to the name, Apple email, you have to click on the people icon and it takes you to a window that will display the address. If it’s not a corporate email, then it’s junk. Many of the email companies have a way to report these messages. If the sender is Hotmail, Outlook, MSN, or any of the other Microsoft email accounts, you can forward the message to AT&T accounts can be sent to Yahoo is Gmail is


It is very wise to put an ad blocker on your browser. Many news agencies don’t want you using them, so you will need an easy way to turn them on and off. You should also have good protection on your computers. The free protection versions will give you popups asking you to purchase a paid version. McAfee and Norton are stingy; they don’t want any other protection being used, and they do nothing about Ads & Spyware, which, in many cases, are what most users with slow computers get the most. The best product I have found for all things related to protection is Malwarebytes Premium. It has a Browser extension to block
those bad ads and stops adware, spyware, and all forms of infections. If I visit home twice for the same thing, I make them replace their protection with this program.

Scammers have gotten good at hiding their intent until you roll over the ad and a popup appears. Anything from, “You are being hacked,” “We found viruses on your computer,” or “You need a Microsoft support agent.” NEVER CALL THE NUMBER. These popups often turn off your mouse or keyboard, and many even scream through the speakers. Don’t panic; just turn off your computer. Press and hold the Power Button to the count of 7, and it will turn off. Please try not to unplug your machine, it’s very hard on it. Once you have gotten your machine to turn off, you can turn it back on normally. All will be well.

Malicious Advertising, also called Malvertising, affects both Windows and Mac Computers. You will find it in your searches. Think about searching on Google for “running shoes”—you’ll likely see ads for Nike and Adidas. A Google search for “best carry-on luggage” will invariably produce ads for the consumer brands Monos and Away. A Google search for a brand like Amazon will show, as expected, ads for Amazon.

But cybercriminals know this, and in response, they’ve created ads that look legitimate but instead direct victims to malicious websites that carry malware. The websites also bear a striking resemblance to whatever product or brand they’re imitating to maintain a charade of legitimacy. Users download what they think is valid software from these websites; instead, they download malware that leaves them open to further attacks.

Facebook Is riddled with Malicious Advertising. Those fundraisers are often a place where they hide. Or they will hack into your account and steal it. Sorry to say Facebook doesn’t do a very good job of detecting these ads, so make sure to have good protection that will stop you from going to a website with Malware. Meta got hounded by Congress for not doing more to protect its users.

Dating Sites: Be very careful. Remember, this is someone you do not know. This is also true for people you meet on Facebook. The victims in these schemes are referred to as pigs by the scammers, who use elaborate storylines to fatten up victims into believing they are in a romantic or otherwise close personal relationship. Once the victim places enough trust in the scammer, they bring the victim into a cryptocurrency investment scheme or con you into sending them money. This happens on cell phones, too. It might look like an innocent text, then reel you into conversations and possible relationships. Again, once they earn your trust, then comes the scam.

Who to contact and what to do if you are a scam victim

Kliewer said that most scammers are not caught, but successful prosecutions have occurred.

  • If you are a scam victim, it is important to report it to the police department.
  • You should also advise your financial institutions and credit bureaus that you may have been a scam victim and have them freeze your credit and/or put a hold on your financial accounts.
  • Contact the Attorney General’s office.
  • Also, contact the Federal Trade Commission to report if you have been a scam victim.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration if someone has stolen your social security number.
  • Change your social media passwords if you believe someone has compromised your accounts.
  • Don’t use the same password.

We could go on and on about the different scams being used on our devices, but we would be reading all day. The FBI has a list of current scams available on its site. You can also call them.

Most of this material was provided by Sue Davis. If it is not indicated as being said by Detective Kliewer, then the information is from Davis’ report.

Click here to contact the HSV Gazette.