Not everyone is trying to cheat you out of your hard-earned money.
It just sometimes seems that way.
To help combat the prevalence of con games in the 21st century, the Center for Disability Empowerment will hold a class titled "Protect Yourself from Scams and Fraud" on May 16.
Part of an ongoing Power Learning Class series put on by the nonprofit organization, the presentation by staff members from the Ohio Attorney General's Office will run from 3 to 5 p.m.
The Center for Disability Empowerment is on the fourth floor at 510 E. North Broadway, in the same building as the Columbus Speech and Hearing Center.
The program is open to the public as well as clients of the community-based center that serves Franklin and Delaware counties, said Executive Director Sue Hetrick.
"Our target audience is people with disabilities and their families, but we're not going to turn anybody away," she said.
"Generally we try to provide information about the types of scams that are occurring in Ohio that are reported to our office," said Kate Hanson, a public information officer with the attorney general's office.
One con that was going strong for a while but which dropped off after April 17 involved calls to people from supposed Internal Revenue Service agents threatening them with arrest, Hanson said. Those who fall prey to the scheme are asked to obtain gift cards, in many instances iTunes cards, then read the numbers over the phone to the "agent."
"Con artists are very good at what they do, and anyone can fall for a scam," Hanson said. "They are very persistent. Oftentimes they are very good at instilling fear into people they contact."
"Scam artists cast a wide net," Attorney General Mike DeWine said in an April 3 press release regrading IRS fraud. "They know not everyone will fall for it, but some will. Scam artists will try to scare you to death, saying they're the IRS and they're coming to throw you in jail if you don't pay them immediately. The real IRS doesn't operate like that."
Hanson said the AG's office received 160 reports of the IRS scam in January, 280 in February and 340 in March.
"We do see certain scams peak at different times, but also scams are occurring all the time," she said.
Hanson said programs such as the May 16 one at the Center for Disability Empowerment serve as a two-way street, with presenters learning from audience members what kinds of con games are making the rounds.
"We encourage people to let us know what kinds of potential scams they are seeing so we can use that in our education efforts to warn others," she said.
"People with disabilities tend to be vulnerable people and targets of scams and frauds, just like elderly people are," Hetrick said. "That, on a very basic level, is why we have this class."
To register for the May 16 class, call 614-575-8055.
Those who need special accommodations are asked to call at least five days in advance.