BBB teaches community about protection against scammers

« Austintown Neighbors


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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Austintown library put out books relating to protection from identity theft and scam artists during a guest lecture from the Better Business Bureau about fraud and scams.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Melissa Ames, Vice President of Better Business Bureau Services in the Youngstown area, spoke at the Austintown library on Oct. 5 about common scams that happen through the internet, over the phone and in person. She gave a number of tips about how to protect and prevent these scams from happening.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Melissa Ames with the Better Business Bureau gave handouts with security tips on them for the attendees of the event at the library. The remaining extras went to the Austintown library.

By ZACK SHIVELY

zshively@vindy.com

The Austintown library invited Melissa Ames of the Better Business Bureau on Oct. 5 to talk about the common scams and how to prevent them.

Ames, Vice President of Better Business Bureau Services in the Youngstown area, explained the different ways that scam artists can attack, through the internet, over the phone and in person, and what to do if they do get your private information.

She said that phishing happens the most often. In a phishing scam, the attacker will pretend to be someone else from an organization. For example, scam artists will pretend to be from a nonprofit charity organization after a disaster in order to get your personal information.

A scammer can go after anyone. She has gotten reports from teenagers, middle-aged people and senior citizens. Each claim has a different victim profile.

She told her own story about being the victim of identity theft. Criminals can steal someone’s identity in a number of ways, including data breaches and filing through trash. Identity theft can also come from phishng.

New technology has led to more ways of being scammed. In one story, Ames explained that person had his external hard drive connected to his computer. A criminal froze both his computer and external drive, rendering both unusable.

While many reports of scams happen over the phone or on the internet, many contractors still scam people in-person. Ames stressed to always check the contractors and not sign anything until researching the company.

Ames gave the attendees protective tips to follow. For example, one should never give out his or her social security number to strangers.

The BBB has taken steps to help prevent scams before they happen. They list reputable businesses on their website for the local area. They also have created a scam tracker that maps out where scams have happened in the past.

Ames has worked for the BBB for 14 years. She has presented at PLYMC libraries multiple times throughout her career. The program educates businesses and consumers on what they should be aware of while doing business in the marketplace.

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