Phone Scams: Educate Yourself and Avoid Becoming a Victim

Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre urges residents to become familiar with signs of a phone scam to avoid becoming a victim. While phone scams are most common, these scams can also take other forms such as over email.

“As technology improves, con artists are finding it easier to initiate phone scams on unsuspecting individuals,” said Sheriff Webre. There are some steps you can take to ensure you don’t become a victim. It’s important to know the signs of a potential scam and share these with friends and family.”

Sheriff Webre offered these examples as signs of a probable scam:

  • You’re told to send money to receive money or prizes.
  • You’re told to send payment “immediately” via prepaid debit card or electronic money order for any reason.
  • The caller uses threatening, offensive, or vulgar language.
  • You receive a phone call from a “department,” but no company name is provided.

Scammers are always seeking new ways to con individuals out of money or to steal a person’s identifying information or account numbers. While there is no limit to how elaborate a particular scam may be, here are a few examples which seem to be most prevalent:

  • Your bank or service provider asking you for personal information over the phone.
  • Law enforcement agency asking you pay fines or send bail money for a relative.
  • Someone on behalf of the IRS threatening arrest if you don’t pay delinquent taxes.
  • Someone offering new Medicare or medical insurance cards who asks for current account numbers.
  • Someone offering a federal grant, but requests personal information or money.
  • Someone who overpays with a check who asks for the difference in return.

As soon as you recognize a possible scam, hang up the phone immediately. Do not attempt to engage the caller or threaten them. “You never know who you are dealing with on the other end of the line,” said Sheriff Webre. “If engaged or kept on the line, these scammers may threaten to come find you in your home, and in some cases, they may even know your address. It’s just a best practice to hang up and block a number of a known scammer.”

Smartphones have features which allow users to block individual numbers to prevent repeat phone calls. There are also several smartphone applications available to help identify or block incoming phone calls from known scammers. The Federal Trade Commission also provides the National Do Not Call List Registry (https://www.donotcall.gov/) where anyone can sign up any phone number to avoid telemarketing calls. The registration does not expire but only applies to the specific phone number registered. Keep in mind, however, this only affects telemarketers, and you may still receive legitimate phone calls from other organizations such as charities, political groups, debt collectors and for surveys.

If you ever receive a phone call which you believe may be legitimate, kindly ask for information from the caller such as the caller’s name and the company. Then search for the company on the Internet and find a contact number or email address. If the call was legitimate, it should be easy to determine by contacting the company at a known number or address. Remember to never give personal information to an incoming caller. If you have questions about the legitimacy of a check, simply call the bank to inquire about its validity.

If you lose money in scam or receive threats of physical harm or violence, you should report it to the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office or your local law enforcement agency. If you believe a call may be legitimate but you have trouble validating the origin of the request, contact our agency to assist you to ensure you do not become the next scam victim.

Phone Scams: Educate Yourself and Avoid Becoming a Victim

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