Hang up, shut it down or toss it out. That's the advice for consumers amid a new wave of financial scams circulating by phone, mail and online.
Some are seasonal, tied to what's in the news, like Obamacare. Others are perennials that seem to sprout up regularly.
Here are three scams that have been making the rounds lately:
Four days in a row last month, the same early-morning calls woke up Corin Gomes' 85-year-old mother. Each time, the caller asked her to "verify" personal information, including her name, age, address and bank account number, in order to receive a free medical I.D. card for seniors. The caller, claiming to be from Washington, D.C., said the new government-issued card would cover any medical expenses not covered by Medicare.
Recovering from a stroke, the Elk Grove, Calif., resident wasn't sure how to respond. That's when Gomes took charge of the 6 a.m. calls, which she determined were coming from a South Florida company, GMY, which had been flagged by the Better Business Bureau in multiple states.
"We probably get at least a call a day about Medicare (scams)," said Cailin Peterson, spokeswoman for the Northeast California Better Business Bureau. "There are a lot of scam phone calls about Obamacare. They tell people: 'It's coming; be sure you're signed up; we need your bank account so we can put money in to pay for your health care.' "
Peterson's advice: Hang up on unsolicited callers who ask for your bank account information. Always remember: the "government" will not call, text or email to ask for your Social Security number or address. It already knows.
Tech support 'help'
Another fraudulent phone ruse is callers who claim to be from a "Microsoft tech support" or a "Windows help desk" team, saying they need to resolve a computer problem, update your customer account or install a security fix. What they really want is to nab your credit card info, install malware to steal your user name/passwords, or gain remote access to your computer.
'Unlock' your computer
You're sitting at your computer and a screen pops up, purportedly from the FBI, National Security Agency or Department of Homeland Security. It says your computer has been locked due to illegal activity, such as downloads of copyrighted videos and music or pornography. In some instances, consumers are directed to pay a $300 fee to "unlock" their computers, using a prepaid money card, such as GreenDot.