Opinion: Put Safeguards In Place To Stop Scams | Avi Gutfreund

Phone scams are a great money maker – for the scammers. While it is difficult to estimate exactly how much money Americans lose every year to scammers calling them on their home or cell phones, experts believe the number is in the tens of millions. While it is easy to tell yourself that you won’t ever fall for a scam, when one is threatening you or a family member with arrest, panic can set in, causing you to make rash, thoughtless decisions, which is exactly what the fraudsters want.

Oftentimes, as was unfortunately shown to be in several recent cases right here in Lakewood, the scammers demanded that the person they were targeting withdraw all the money from their bank accounts and send it all via an encrypted system or by Bitcoin to the scammers. The question is why banks aren’t stopping it. If you were a bank teller, wouldn’t you find it odd when a frazzled man or woman walks in and shakily asks that you withdraw all the money from their account? Wouldn’t it make you wonder just a bit, at least enough to ask a few questions? A person who is out of the blue taking out all their money is either making a huge investment, switching banks… or being scammed.

It is unfair to expect people who are caught up in a terrifying scam to know on their own that whoever is on the phone with them is taking advantage of their naivete, fear, or mental state. Even if you do think everyone should know better, the fact is that there will always be people who fall for such scams, whether we like it or not. As such, it is important that financial institutions with whom we entrust our hard-earned money with ask questions to prevent their clients from falling prey to con-men.

Perhaps – and I don’t know if this is practical or even useful – we should ask the tellers or managers at the banking institutions we use what safeguards, if any, they have in place to help stop people losing their money to a scam. If they don’t have any sensible safeguards in place, they should be urged to create a plan on how to deal with these scams which are far too common and occur often.

It is not enough to just talk about how terrible these scams are – it is important that we do something about it as well. Putting in safeguards just might save someone a lot of money, and that somebody just might be you.

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  1. My goodness, the answer is don’t answer the phone unless you know the number. If it is a genuine call they will leave a voice mail. If you only have a landline get caller ID.

    It is not the responsibility of my financial institution to review my withdrawls. Or, for that matter to ask me the purpose of the withdrawl. It’s bad enough that the feds are limiting transfers from checking to savings and bank deposits.

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