Telephone scams are an on-going complaint received in the Sheriff’s office; about one a week. There are currently several nation-wide scams that are going on right here in the Oneida County area. Most people who call to report phone scams have not been victimized; it’s important to never give any personal information to anyone on the phone unless you have made the phone call and know the person you are speaking to.
One current phone scam involves someone calling and stating there is an IRS warrant for your arrest. The caller will tell you that if you do not send money within a certain period of time, someone will come to your home and arrest you. This is not the IRS. The IRS will not ask you for immediate payment on the phone nor would they demand payment without first sending you a bill and giving you’re the opportunity to question or appeal the charges. The IRS has advised the public about this phone scam on its website.
Another that has been around for several years involves the claiming a relative has been arrested or the victim of some type of an accident. Often the caller will say the relative was in a foreign country on vacation and the person needs money immediately to be bailed out of jail or to be treated in a hospital. In some cases, the caller may report the relative has been kidnapped. The caller will state he or she is assisting your relative and the money should be sent immediately through Western Union. The caller usually has limited information and will create the story based on information given in response to questions. These calls can be very traumatic. However, it is important that you ask the person for their name and phone number. Often, they will not give this information and this should be an indication that this is a scam. Do not give them information about yourself or your relative. Tell them you will call them back. Once you have ended the call, contact your relative. If you cannot reach them, contact law enforcement and we will attempt to contact them to check on them. You should never send money to someone you do not know especially if they initiate contact with you.
These are only a few of the scams that have been reported in the Oneida County area. Rest assured there are people who are creating something new to attempt to get your personal information or money. These calls can be very frustrating to citizens, but they are also frustrating to law enforcement. Technology allows these thieves to alter or mask their phone numbers so that they cannot be traced. The accounts they request the money be sent to are out of the country or under alias names. They have even gone as far as convincing people to buy prepaid debit cards and giving them the card numbers. Victims have lost hundreds to thousands of dollars.
In many cases, there is very little law enforcement can do to find and prosecute the perpetrators of these scams. So that means citizens must be alert. Remember not to give out your personal information to anyone on the phone unless you initiate the phone call and know who you are speaking with. Another important thing to remember is to not give out too much information on social media sites. This information can be used against you by scammers. If you do receive one of these phone calls, you should call the Sheriff’s Office and report the call so we can log the information.
If you have any law enforcement questions or topics you would like more information about, contact Terri Hook at 715-361-5150 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Your question may be the topic of the next article.