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Our opinion: Beware of the litany of scams out there

The Minnesota State Attorney General’s office sent out a warning recently about a utility scam.

The Minnesota Vikings and authorities have sounded the alert about counterfeit tickets for playoff games.

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota’s Scam Tracker is skyrocketing to 100,000 reports, the non-profit says.

The point is scammers are fishing for victims, as they always do.

“Scammers, as a group, recognize the speed at which things move today,” says a news release from the Better Business Bureau. “They know people feel harried, even off-balance sometimes, as we navigate our days. They know this pressure we all feel works to their advantage, and they make full use of it.”

The scam that the Attorney General’s Office is warning of is something we have seen before, most recently in December. Austin Utilities sent out warnings as soon as it got wind.

According to Austin Utilities Support Services Director Kim Duncomb at the time, victims receive a phone call informing them that they will have their utility services disconnected if they do not provide credit card information. If you receive this phone call, do not provide any credit card information, she said. It’s not the way Austin Utilities does business. Call Austin Utilities at 507-433-8886 if you have questions about your account.

The Better Business Bureau has this advice: “We feel the best tools people have to protect themselves from fraud are skepticism and time. The days where we could take people at their word are gone, alas. This doesn’t at all mean we can’t or shouldn’t trust people. But when it comes to our financial affairs and our personal information we can’t be too careful. It’s important to take things you’re told – be it via the phone, email or text message – with a grain of salt. And it’s vitally important to take your time and research the offers you receive; the things you’re told and the companies you seek to do business with at bbb.org.  Don’t be pressured by anyone. Always remember that you have rights.”

We’d add that there is something to be said for doing business with people you know in the local market. Local businesspeople are invested in your community and their reputations are important to them.  You and your family are important to them.