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It is safe to say scammers have become highly skilled today at tricking us with fraudulent calls, text messages and emails. At Dakotaland, our number one priority is the safety of your personal information and financial resources. Dakotaland knows that providing the best security possible requires your vigilance as well.

In a few words, when dealing with the very–convincing email or texting scams of today, slow down, ‘don’t click,’ call the entity on their published number to verify. Also with phone scams, I have similar advice. Hang up when someone calls, then call back at a published number before you do anything. Unfortunately, no incoming call, email or text can be trusted on its own merit. So, I have listed additional tips to help you decipher the difference between a good contact and a bad scam.

1. It's an Emergency

One of the easiest ways for a scammer to get your attention is to create an emergency. When someone you know is supposedly in trouble or a bill is suddenly overdue, red flags should go up for you. These are common tricks to coerce you into doing something in haste which you wouldn’t normally do. If someone calls insisting you act urgently, hang up and make a call to the person who is supposedly in trouble or call the published number of the business you allegedly owe money to. Verify the situation and do not rush to meet their demands.

2. Asking for Personal Information

Scammers love to impersonate a government agency such as the IRS or a trusted business like your credit card company, utility company or financial institution. They act as if they know you and proceed to ask you for personal information to verify or secure your accounts. Millions of us have been part of data breaches impacting our private data also. Scammers can get access to that data and use it to “prove” they are legitimately calling you. How else could they know so much about you? Don’t fall for it. 

Instead, hang up and call the business or agency on their regular published number or the customer service number on the back of the actual credit card to validate the request. Legitimate companies advertise that they do not ask for personal information by calling you.

3. Needing to Access Your Computer or Cell Phone

When you have been notified that your computer, laptop or cell phone has been compromised, BEWARE! If anyone asks to remote into your device to install software, help you reset a password or update your security, the answer is always no! Disengage from this person immediately, power off your device if you are concerned they got access and contact your local computer or cell phone representative if you feel your device has been compromised. Remember, no company is monitoring your computer for security updates – only you can keep your devices secure. Run the updates from the device operating system settings icons or menus. Install a trusted antivirus product. If you are not sure how to do that, reach out to a vendor or person you trust to help.

4. Contacting You Unexpectedly

Everyone has experienced scammers using local phone numbers spoofed to try to get you to answer, “because your car’s extended warranty has expired.” Unfortunately, we have reached a point where any unrecognized number on your personal devices is likely a scam (your work calls may be different, of course.)

If you use a cell phone, store known callers in your contacts list. If a number not in your contacts is calling, let it go to voicemail. Then use your cell phone’s caller blocking features if the call is unwanted. To avoid most of these calls, place your land line and cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry operated by the Federal Trade Commission.

Nearly every email and cellular system has a means to mark messages as “junk” or “spam” or block. Use those features and beware of emails and texts from non-contacts. Don’t click on any links, open the web browser and access the secured website of the organization emailing you. Links in emails are truly getting more dangerous, so remember “don’t click”.

5. It's Too Good to be True

Wow! You won a million dollars or an all-expense paid Caribbean cruise and all you must do is call in the next 30 minutes to claim your prize. It looks legitimate and it sure would be terrible if you missed out on all that money. But the fact is, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Before you call that number, do your research. There are many great resources out there, but South Dakota residents can visit the South Dakota Consumer Protection Office of the Attorney General website at to determine if the offer has been reported as a scam.

In the US, one in ten adults will fall victim to a scam or fraud every year. If you feel you have been the target of a scam, it is important to first take immediate measures to protect yourself and your assets. Dakotaland can help, call us. Your next step may well be reporting the incident to your local police department.