It's scam season

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If you’ve been inundated with phone calls lately, the Maine Attorney General’s Office has some advice.

As a general rule, all scams have similar traits. Here are some obvious ones that raise red flags in the Consumer Protection Division that you should keep in mind:

You are contacted out of the blue. Anyone who calls, emails, send you a letter, texts or comes to your dooryard out of the blue may not have your best interest at heart. You don’t have to respond right away, make a decision or even answer the door.

You have to send money up front in order to receive a prize. You haven’t won anything if you have to pay for it.

You need to send money via wire transfer or a reloadable card. This is frequently the preferred way for scammers to ask for money. Remember, this is just like sending someone cash – you’ll never see it again.

You are asked for personal or financial information. Never provide your personal information (date of birth, Social Security number, etc.) or bank account information to someone you don’t know. Your bank or credit card company will not call and ask to confirm any account or personal details they already have on file. Anyone asking for this information out of the blue is trying to scam you.

Don’t tell anyone. Scammers want to keep you under their spell. If you tell family and friends, someone may dissuade you from interacting with them. If you’re asked to keep it a secret, it is a scam.

Act now. If an offer is really good, it can wait for you to sleep on it and get back to them tomorrow. Too many times though, scams have to be acted on today only. We advise you to be slow to say yes and quick to say no.

You get a real-looking check. If you get a check and are asked to send money back, it’s a scam. If you really think you’ve come upon unexpected good fortune, take your check to the bank and ask them to verify whether it is real.

Always listen to your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Kay Soldier welcomes reader ideas for column topics of interest to seniors. She can be reached by email at kso48@aol.com, or write to 114 Tandberg Trail, Windham, ME 04062.