FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 2, 2014
Be Wary of Scams
Nowadays there seems to be no end to the ways that people will try to obtain money from others in an illegal fashion. We receive calls from citizens almost every day who have been contacted by someone who tried (or was successful in) obtaining money or personal information from them.
The well worn phrases ‘if it seems to good to be true then it probably isn’t true’ or ‘take everything with a grain of salt’ should be kept in the front of your mind when someone unexpectedly contacts you and claims you have won money or owe someone money. Some of the fraudulent attempts that we have seen are:
You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, FBI, a county sheriff’s department or municipal police department from some distance away. The person tells you that you owe money because you didn’t pay a tax, didn’t pay on a loan or cashed an ‘unauthorized check’. You would be instructed to wire money using a moneygram or going to a store such as Wal-Mart and purchasing a ‘Green Dot’ card (a reloadable debit card) and providing the caller with the card number. These are all cases of fraud; a government agency wouldn’t contact you on the phone and have you wire money to satisfy a debt. Don’t give personal information over the phone, use the phone number that the caller gives you or follow the instructions to send money. Look up the number for the agency on your own and contact them to verify the information you received and call your local police department to report the incident.
You receive a phone call from someone telling you that you won a large amount of money from a lottery, sweepstakes or drawing. All you need do is send a certain amount of money (typically through a money gram or purchasing a debit card). This is a case of ‘you can’t win if you don’t enter’ and if you did win a legitimate lottery you wouldn’t have to pay up front to receive your winnings. Don’t give the caller any personal information and don’t send any money. Contact your local police department to report the incident.
You receive a phone call in the middle of the night from someone claiming to be a relative who is in serious trouble; either they have been arrested and need money to make bail or have an illness or injury and require immediate life saving treatment. The person is trying to take advantage of the late hour and your desire to help a relative in need. Find out the name of the police department where the person was arrested or the name of the hospital the person is in and look up their number to verify the situation. Contact your local police department to report the incident.
You develop a relationship with someone online who tells you that they need money to help start a business, pay for surgery, settle a debt, or for some other reason. You have never met this person so the only things you know are what you have been told online or perhaps by a phone call. They ask you to send money by way of a money gram or debit card. There are too many cases of this being someone who only wants to take advantage of someone. Contact your local police department to report the incident.
You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from your utility company (PPL, UGI, RCN, Service Electric, city water or sewer) telling that your bill has not been paid and the utility will be shutting off your water, electric, gas, phone/cable etc within an hour or two unless you pay the balance immediately by sending the by way of a money gram or prepaid debit card. Do not follow the person’s instructions; your utility companies do not operate like this and will give you ample time to warn you of an unpaid bill and a chance to pay the bill to them directly. Call your local police to report the incident.
You can contact the Bethlehem Police Department Crime Prevention Services Unit for more information at 610-865-7181.