Editorial: International Fraud Awareness Week starts Sunday

Oct. 31, 2013 @ 11:04 PM

With November's arrival comes the joy and festivities associated with the holiday season — specifically Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And with the joyful time of the year brought on by the love, caring and giving of the season comes a seedy underbelly of humanity — frauds and scams — aimed at capitalizing on the giving spirit of the season.

Sunday begins International Fraud Awareness Week, an effort to promote awareness, detection and prevention of fraud and scams.

It comes at a critical time. A time when organizations around the world lose an estimated 5 percent of their annual revenues to fraud, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) found in a recent study.

The easiest and most obvious ways to avoid a scam are these: 1) If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is; and 2) Never make a rash decision. Take time to study big decisions, and research companies before investing your hard-earned dollars.

Society's vultures typically seek what they consider easy prey — the poor, the ill or the elderly. People that need help or are desperate for a change in their current condition.

And, it seems, every time a new scam surfaces (a new Internet phishing scam, a method for identity theft) and an old faithful fraud (pyramid or ponzi scheme) isn't far behind.

Fortunately, there are also an ever-increasing number of resources to combat fraud.

A quick search of the web turns up dozens of anti-fraud sites, ranging from the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association to USA.gov's Internet Fraud Information site.

If you suspect a possible scammer or fraudulent business, speak up. Warn you friends and family. If a huckster is on the prowl in your neighborhood, call your neighbors and warn them to the activity.

If you believe a crime is being committed, call police.

A fraud's greatest ally is silence.