2017-11-09 / News

Roscommon County sheriff warns of different types of scams

Roscommon County Sheriff Ed­ward Stern is warning county resi­dents about an influx of telephone scams in the area.

Roscommon County has had a recent surge in four rather well- known scams. The twist with some of these is that the callers are using a variation of “spoofing” or “tele- spoofing.”

Tele-spoofing is a situation in which the fraudster is able to falsify caller identification information. Most citizens have some type of call­er identification (caller ID) on their phones. Fraudsters call a consumer (potential victim) and, because of technology and tele-spoofing, they can make the call seem legitimate.

For example, the number that comes up on the caller ID might be from a local exchange that the citi­zen is familiar with. But in reality, the number is actually fake and like­ly from an undisclosed location, pos­sibly another U.S. state or a foreign country. The fraudster then launches into whatever scam they happen to be perpetrating.

Caller identification (or caller ID) is supposed to allow consumers a way to avoid unwanted calls. But when the caller identification is ma­nipulated by a fraudster, claiming to be from the IRS, a credit card com­pany, a bank, collectors or any other “official” representative, it can lead to problems if the consumer pro­vides personal information.

When people see a local num­ber on their caller ID, they might be more likely to share information when they should not. The simple rule to follow is never to share pri­vate information if solicited or asked to provide such information, espe­cially by telephone. It is a rare cir­cumstance that a bank, credit card company or the IRS would call an individual and ask for information pertaining to one’s identity or ac­counts.

For example, say a consumer re­ceives a call from someone claiming to be representative from Visa. He or she should be cautious and not provide personal information if re­quested to do so. Rather, the person should hang up and then contact his or her credit card company directly with the phone numbers on the back of the credit card or a statement.

If there is truly an issue with the account, the representative that the consumer contacts can assist with whatever problem might exist. The call can even be started with the consumer explaining that they just received a call but refused to share personal information. The represen­tative should understand and can cer­tainly assist the consumer in verify­ing the integrity of their account(s).

Here are some tips for citizens who think they are being spoofed:

• Never give out personal infor­mation such as account numbers, social security numbers, mother’s maiden name, passwords, full name, date of birth or any other identifying information.

• Hang up and call the company or agency that is seeking personal information. Someone will be able to assist with any problem, if there is one.

• High pressure tactics such as threats are always a strong clue that the caller is a fraudster.

Roscommon County has recently seen an influx of four common fraud techniques. Keep in mind that when these scams are perpetrated, it is of­ten with a false telephone number and from a location that is likely out of the consumer’s home state, possi­bly even from another country. This makes these cases almost impossible for local law enforcement to investi­gate or capture the offender(s).

IRS Scam: In this scam, someone calls claiming to be from the IRS. They then request immediate pay­ment from the taxpayer for alleged back taxes that are owed. The IRS will not contact people by telephone for something like this. A person would likely receive a notice in the mail rather than a personal call re­questing immediate payment by credit card or other means.

Credit Card Scam: Someone calls and attempts to obtain information pertaining to a person’s credit card account, perhaps by baiting the con­sumer with suggesting that the card has been compromised or hacked and they need personal informa­tion to correct the problem. Again, citizens should hang up and contact their credit card company directly. Never give information if solicited.

Third Party Trouble: This is a sit­uation— often perpetrated on senior citizens—in which someone calls and claims that a family member is in trouble and needs money wired to help them. For example, grand­parents might get a call that their grandson, perhaps one who resides in another state, has been arrested and needs money for legal fees or to get out of jail. The called person is given specific directions to either provide credit card information or to wire money to a specific location to help out the family member, but the money really goes to the thief.

Craig’s List Triangulation: This is part of a triangulation scheme in which someone pretends to be inter­ested in a product that someone is selling on Craig’s List or another In­ternet merchant. The fraudster then involves a third party, such as an al­leged shipping company or person who is sent to pick up the product as the buyer is “out of state.” The fraudster might even send a check for an amount over the amount due for the product, asking the seller to forward money to the third party shipping company. If it is a scam, the check is later found to be fraudulent, or sometimes belongs to a fourth in­nocent victim’s account. Once the check is cashed and sent, the seller or another person is out whatever amount of money they sent.

These are just a few scams that law enforcement sees in Roscom­mon County. The bottom line is that when a citizen is contacted and so­licited for information, they should be wary about providing information to an unverified source.

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