SCAM ALERT! Here's some information from our Detective Division.
With the holidays right around the corner scammers are on the rise. People lose a lot of money to scams, sometimes their life savings. Scammers have figured out countless ways to cheat you out of your money over the phone. In some scams, they may act friendly and helpful. In others they may try and threaten you or a family member to scare you into giving them money. Here are some things that you should keep in mind when you believe that you may be a victim of a scam.
- There is no prize, some may say that you have been selected for an offer or won the lottery but if you have to pay for it then it is not a prize.
- You won’t be arrested, some scammers may pretend to be law enforcement and claim that you will be arrested, fined, or deported if you do not pay taxes or some other debt. This is just to scare you into paying. No law enforcement agency will ask you to do this!
- You don’t need to decide right now, legitimate businesses will give you time to think about their offer and get written information about it before asking you to commit to anything. DO NOT GET PRESSURED INTO MAKING A DECISION ON THE SPOT.
- There is never a good reason to send cash or pay with a gift card, scammers will often ask you to pay in a way that makes it hard for you to get your money back. For example wiring money, purchasing digital currency, putting money on a gift card, prepaid card or cash reload card, or using a money transfer app like Venmo or cash app.
- Government agencies are not calling to confirm your sensitive information, it's never a good idea to give out sensitive information like your social security number to someone who calls you unexpectedly. Even if they say they work for the social security administration or IRS.
- Grandkid scams, you may get a call saying “Grandma I need money for bail” or even money for a medical bill or some other kind of trouble. They say that it's urgent and tell you to keep it a secret. Before doing anything: stop, check it out, or talk to someone to confirm it's really them.
These are just some of the situations that you may find yourself in when facing a scam call. But how do you stop scammers and what can you do if you have already paid a scammer?
- HANG UP, the best thing that you can do if you believe that you are dealing with a scam call is to hang up the phone. Even if it's not a scammer calling you, if a company is calling you illegally then it's not a company that you want to do business with. When you get a robocall do not press any numbers this may end up leading to more robocalls.
- Call Blocking, Scammers will use the internet to make calls from all over the world. They do not care if you are on the National Do Not Call Registry. Your best defense against unwanted calls is call blocking.
- DO NOT TRUST YOUR CALLER ID, scammers can make any name or number show up on your caller ID. This is called spoofing. SO even if it looks like your grandchild is calling a government agency or even a local number, it could be a scammer calling from anywhere in the world.
Scammers will most likely ask you to pay in ways that make it tough for you to get your money back. If you have paid a scammer the sooner you act the better.
- If you paid with a credit card or debit card, you may be able to stop the transaction. Contact your credit card company or bank RIGHT AWAY. Explain what happened and ask for a “charge back” to reverse the charges that were made to your card.
- If you paid with a money transfer app, contact the company behind the app. If the app is linked to a credit card then contact your credit card company or bank first.
- If you paid with a gift card, you may be able to stop the transaction. Again, contact your credit card company or bank RIGHT AWAY. Tell them that you paid a scammer with the card and ask if they can refund your money. The sooner you contact them the better the chance that they will be able to get your money back.
- Paid with a wire transfer, call the money transfer company IMMEDIATELY to report the fraud and file a complaint. Call the complaint department..
- MoneyGram: 1-800-MONEYGRAM (1-800-666-3947)
- Western Union 1-800-325-6000
- Ask for the money transfer to be reversed. It's unlikely to happen but it is important to ask
- If you gave the scammer your social security number (SSN), go to identiytheft.com to learn how to monitor your credit report to see if your SSN is being misused.
If you have any other concerns or want to learn more go to https://consumer.ftc.gov/scams