Haters hate – and scammers scam. But you don’t have to be a victim.

Recent scams in Idaho have targeted Idaho Power Co. customers and restaurant owners, as reported recently by NewsRadio1310. Another scam targeted CSI students.

You never know who the next scam will target. It could be you.

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The best thing any of us can do is be familiar with scammer tactics, never give out personal information unless it’s a verified and secure source and, if you think you’ve been targeted, contact the proper authorities immediately to report the suspicious request.

Dan Olmstead, community representative for Idaho Power, said customers should never tend money, but instead call the company’s 800 number to have Idaho Power verify legitimate claims or to report suspicious requests. The number to call is 800-488-6151.

You should do the same if another business contacts you about digging into your wallet or giving them personal information. Contact the business to see if the request is legitimate.

Of course, not all scammers fake a business. Some pretend to be a family member in dire straits, even going so far as to sound like a member of your clan. They may request a transfer of money or for the party to send them pre-paid money cards.

Don’t do it!

Red flags should go up whenever anyone contacts you – whether it’s an alleged family member or not – for personal information or money.

Verify, verify, verify!

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Another scam is fraudulent job postings, where scammers use online sites to post fake jobs to get personal information from job seekers.

For those looking for love, there’s yet another avenue for scammers to dupe people, both their heartstrings and their wallets: dating scams. Often these scams target older audiences, but younger folks can be duped too if they’re not vigilant and aware of fraudulent tactics. Dating scams, as with all others, can happen at any time of the year.

“After exchanging a couple of messages through the dating site, your new love interest suggests that you start emailing or chatting through a different service,” reads information from the Better Business Bureau. “You agree, and, soon, you are exchanging photos and messages frequently. You may even talk on the phone or through a webcam.

“Your relationship seems to be getting serious, and your new love interest wants to visit. There’s just one problem. He or she doesn’t have money for the trip and asks for cash for airfare. But after you send the money, you find your new sweetheart has suddenly stopped communicating!”

The BBB says that these scams have been around for as long as there have been online dating services, and that they often invent new twists to scam unsuspecting victims.

Something else to consider shunning are friend requests on Facebook from people you don’t know, especially if they are not mutual friends with any of the “friends” you do personally know. It’s probably best not to befriend them.

The Kimberly Police Department informs residents of several other potential scams to be aware of, including some originating overseas:

  • Overseas lottery or inheritance
  • Requests for check-cashing assistance
  • Secret shopper employment
  • Requests for financial support of relatives allegedly jailed or hospitalized in other countries
  • Offers to purchase property out of the area at unbelievable low cost
  • Emails or phone calls requesting banking or other types of personal information.

“These frauds have swindled personal identification and large amounts of money from multiple victims,” the police pamphlet reads. “The criminals are protected through international borders and the inability to identify them.

“If you are contacted and directed to send large amounts of money overseas or your personal identification, please be cautious. These criminals commonly request money transfers to be sent via Western union. If there is no person physically available, you should be on the alert.”

Scammers are ceaseless in learning new ways to commit fraud, so it’s best to be vigilant ourselves and live by the basic rule of thumb: Never give out personal information or money to anyone contacting you to do so without first verifying the legitimacy of the request.

If you believe you’ve been scammed, or encountered a scam attempt, contact your local law enforcement, bank, Office of the Attorney General and Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. You may also file complaints about identity theft, fraud, phishing, scams or other unfair business practices at this FTC webpage.