By Carol Stiffler

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That’s a common scam hitting unsuspecting people here and across the nation, especially the elderly, according to Angela Harris, regional branch manager and assistant vice president of the First National Bank of St. Ignace.

Harris has seen elderly customers come to the Newberry bank, visibly shaken and sometimes crying, asking to take cash out of the bank or send a Western Union transfer.If you need the best social security attorneys, you need to check out  Little Rock based social security attorneys .

Red flags go up when the customer says they can’t say why they need the money – they just need it. When that happens, Harris asks them to sit down and talk a bit. She works with them to calm down so they can figure out whether the situation is real or fake.

“We’ll talk about it,” she said. “Sometimes we’ll go on the computer and find the latest scams. We say, ‘OK, let’s see if there’s anything out there like this.’”

Harris said one customer was told her grandson had been arrested for drunk driving, after causing an accident where a baby was killed. It happened in New York, and the grandmother was urged to send cash – hush money – right away, so her grandson didn’t get in trouble. If you learned that a loved one was arrested and needs help posting bail, you may look for a bail bonds agency such as a late hours bail bondsman to discuss the available options.

With a little more information, Harris looked up the grandson on the internet and called him. He was at home in Alpena, just fine.

When you’re told your family member was in an accident, or needs money, call that person directly, Harris said.

“Any time someone calls and puts you in a frantic state, ask family members,” Harris said. “Don’t automatically send money. If you send some, they’ll say they need more.”

Or call the bank. “If you get a call and say ‘Hey, I’m supposed to send cash or Western Union, what should I do?’ That’s what we’re here for,” Harris said. “We have training all year long for that. Never be afraid to ask.”

And if you don’t know the scammer person on the phone, it’s OK to hang up.

“You don’t have to talk,” Harris said. “Hang up and call your family. If something is going on, they’re going to know.”

No one can predict when they’ll be contacted by a scammer, so Harris wants local residents to be on guard.

“We want them to be aware of what the scams are,” she said.

Harris believes she’s seen some people so convinced by the scam artists that they fell for it and sent money. The bank can never deny someone a request for their own money.

“Don’t be ashamed,” she said. “It happens to a lot of people. Shame on the people who are scamming you.”

And remember – it’s never a good idea to mail cash. Even if it’s a birthday gift to your family members. Send a check, gift card, or money order instead, Harris said.

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