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I-Team: Be on the lookout for “free money” scam

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Have you been targeted by scammers? It’s a good bet that many can answer “yes” to that question.

All this week Eyewitness News is taking a close look at scams that are showing up across our region, and how you can protect yourself and our family.

No doubt we all get the calls and or emails with an offer that sounds too good to be true. The mission of these con-artists? Get your personal information.

Information that can be used to gain access to your financial accounts, bank accounts, credit cards, etc. In a matter of minutes you could be ruined financially. Your life savings gone, wiped out. Tuesday night the I-Team took a closer look at the so-called ‘”free money” scam.

“I received a call saying they were from the Department of Health Services stating that due to good payment in my bills I was a candidate for a $14,500 grant right away. I thought something is not right,” Dave of Hazleton, a target of the free money scam, said.

And Dave says the scammers were persistent.

“He said if I gave him either my credit card number or a prepaid credit card number or my bank account number it would automatically be deposited in my account,” Dave said.

Investigators say this type of call should sound the alarm immediately.

“Anything that comes unsolicited to you. You weren’t researching it. You weren’t trying to find out information on your own. Your own bank account. You shouldn’t provide your information to anybody,” PSP Trooper David Peters said.

State police say scammers will try any trick to get your information to gain access to your money.

“Date of birth, social security number, personal information, shouldn’t be given out to anybody. That’s what they are using to try and compromise your bank account,” Peters said.

Dave says he knew right away he was being targeted by con artists but was concerned that other folks might be duped.

“They could be calling anybody. They could be calling the elderly that aren’t so knowledgeable and they would give their information out and end up losing everything in their account,” Dave said.

Investigators say people have to pay close attention to all of their financial accounts and credit cards.

“Reporting false purchases, looking at your statement. You know some people, they don’t look at their statement or it’s not set up for them to get alerts on when purchases was made. You know, do that. Set amounts on your cards, things like that so if somebody does get your information, there’s only so much they can take at a time,” Peters said.

And scammers are trying to use the COVID pandemic to take advantage of people. Everything from vaccine shots to COIVID testing. The I-Team will take a closer look at COVID-related scams Wednesday at 11 on Eyewitness News.

There are a multitude of federal, state and local agencies that can provide assistance if you think you’ve been targeted by a scam.

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