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Identity Thieves Exploit Your Trusting Nature

Over the last 30 years, fraud has gotten a lot worse.  Some say it’s the new crime of the century.  One of the most recent trends is imitating trusted brands, such as major retailers, banks, major software tech support, etc. tricking consumers into giving up personal information.


Con artists like to say, “gain the victim’s trust, get them under the ether and create urgency.” 


But Kelly!  You say, what is “getting them under the ether” mean?  It is a slang term used by con artists.  It means, getting folks into such a heightened emotional state of mind that they’re no longer thinking rationally.  For a long time, that was usually done by offering large wealth opportunities.  Now it has shifted somewhat to a fear of loss.  If you get a text message, an email, or see a social media post that causes you to become anxious or nervous, that’s a red flag that you might be “going under the ether.”


Folks that are usually vulnerable to getting caught in the “ether” are usually somebody who has just gone through (or is currently going through) a stressful life event.  Skilled con artists, when in a conversation with somebody, are searching for the victim’s stress event.  The loss of a child, or loss of a job, or recent divorce, etc.  Many people are not tech savvy.  They are uncertain how to use their computers, iPhones, etc. and are easily tricked by somebody offering to help them out.


Businesses are bombarded with messages that say something like, “You just received a document to sign, click here to view it.”  Or “You just received a deposit, click here to view the receipt.”  Or “Your software password is about to expire, click here to update it.”  I could go on and on with the various attempts made to get businesses to expose their business data to thieves.


Another trick con artists use is Social Media.  You might get a private message from a “friend” telling you about a way they just got a lot of money deposited into their account.  You might see an ad pop up promising something that seems too good to be true, even having pictures of famous people who seem to be endorsing a product.  Here is an important tip for Facebook users.  Make sure your privacy settings are set so that only close friends and relatives can see what you’re posting. 


Here are some other practical steps to help avoid being trapped in the ether of a con-artist.  1)Never send money to someone you don’t personally know.  (Con artists love to ask you to send them funds through many means.)  2)Update your anti-virus software regularly.  3)Use call-blocking to identify unwanted phone calls.  4)NEVER click on any link or attachment in an email or text.  Contact the sender if it is somebody you know and verify it is really from them first.  (Don’t use the phone number in the email or text either, look them up in your contacts.)  4)If a message pops up that your computer is infected with a virus, first just close your web-browser.  Then restart your computer.  As an extra precaution, call a professional IT person to come and check out your computer. 


Have you heard?  Deut 19:b says, “…So you shall remove the evil from among you.”


Kelly Bullis is a Certified Public Accountant in Carson City.  Contact him at 775-882-4459.  On the web at  Also on Facebook.

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