How to Avoid Being Scammed

Be Alert for Telephone-Based Scams

While violent and property crimes are on the decline in South Florida, law enforcement professionals are seeing a new wave of telephone-based scams targeting victims of all ages. Some of the latest scams being reported include callers claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service; the FBI; police agencies or banks and credit card companies. The scams typically involve callers who use sophisticated computer technology called “caller ID spoofing,” which is illegal, to mask their true identity, with the hopes of defrauding the victim.  The scam generally includes a threat of arrest or serious credit problem if you fail to take immediate steps to resolve an alleged debt. The fraudster will instruct you to wire them money or send a money order to resolve the debt issue. You should know that governmental agencies and most legitimate companies will not conduct these types of transactions over the telephone.

You never want to give out any personal identifying information or respond to anyone who calls you on the telephone asking for sensitive information or money. It is extremely challenging to locate fraudsters who perpetuate these crimes, and in most cases, equally difficult to recover funds that are electronically transferred or sent to these unscrupulous individuals. When in doubt about the authenticity of a caller, hang up the phone, find a legitimate telephone number for the company or agency in question, and call them with the legitimate telephone number. Don’t use any numbers the caller gives you! Consumers should take the following steps to avoid becoming a victim of phone scams:

  • Never give out personal information over the telephone.
  • Never give out billing information over the telephone, especially if you receive an unsolicited telephone call from a stranger.
  • Never wire money or purchase money orders and/or prepaid cash cards in response to a telephone appeal, whether it is from a stranger or someone who claims to know you.
  • Never give out sensitive information to anyone on the telephone unless you initiated the call to a company you are certain is legitimate.
  • And never let emotions or fear overcome your common sense. If you get a call for money from a friend or a relative, slow down and verify everything. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a hasty decision that could cost you money.