You weren't born yesterday. But how savvy are you really at avoiding scams? Take this quiz and find out.
1. A message flashes on your computer screen: "Warning! Your system requires immediate antivirus scan." It offers a free scan. What do you do?
A. Click "No thanks" or the corner symbol to close the pop-up message.
B. On a PC, hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys and hit "delete." Under the Applications tab, choose "End Task," then do a full scan with your existing antivirus software.
C. Click "OK" to run the free scan.
2. Your wallet is lost or stolen. Should you file a report with the police?
A. No. The police are unlikely to have time to investigate.
B. Yes. Sending copies of the report to card issuers and credit bureaus will help clear up any ID theft.
3. The phone rings and a recorded voice tells you to call a number concerning an undeliverable package. Which area codes suggest it's a scam?
A. 284, 649, 809 or 876
B. 473, 664 or 784
C. All of the above.
4. You receive a $4,850 check and a letter saying it's partial payment of a lottery win. You're told to deposit the check and wire some or all of the money to the prize authority for insurance or other fees to get the full jackpot. You should:
A. Trash the check.
B. Deposit it and send the requested fee.
C. Deposit it, but don't send the fees.
5. When getting cash at an ATM, how can you protect your debit card data from scammers?
A. Wiggle the ATM's card slot to see if it's secure.
B. On newer ATMs, look for a bright or flashing light at the slot.
C. Cover the keypad as you enter your PIN.
D. All of the above.
6. After filing a tax return, you get an e-mail from an IRS address seeking personal data. Your response:
A. Click on the link in the e-mail to get details.
B. Provide the requested info via e-mail.
C. Delete the message unless it's clearly a reply to an e-mail that you sent the IRS.
Answer 1: B
Clicking anywhere in the on-screen alert can give your computer a virus.
Answer 2: B
Also alert issuers of other missing cards — driver's license, Medicare card, etc.
Answer 3: C
All are Caribbean codes. Scammers hope to run up your bill by $50 or more per call.
Answer 4: A
You never have to pay to collect a contest prize. And the check is fake, and your bank will hound you for any money you withdraw.
Answer 5: D
A and B test for "skimming" devices that steal card data. C blocks prying eyes or cameras.
Answer 6: C
The email is a scam for sure — the feds don't send unsolicited emails like this. If there's an issue with your tax return, expect a mailed letter.
Results: 1-2 correct: There's a bull's-eye on your back; 3-4 correct: So-so; 5-6 correct: Congrats!
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling. Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling. Have a look at our Scam Alert archive for past warnings about the con artists who too often seek to part Americans from their hard-earned money. If you don’t find your answer there, send a query.
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