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Scams Keep On Coming

By Staff | Sep 7, 2011

No one is immune from scammers. Just ask Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Lynn Schultes.

An ongoing tactic used by scammers known as “Phishing” was tried on Schultes himself just last week and that prompts the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office to warn everyone that the scammers are alive and well and trying to ply their illegal craft in Palo Alto County.

The most recent scam will arrive via your telephone at home or even by your cell phone. The scammer’s number may show up or be listed as a private, restricted or blocked number on your caller ID system. The usual call consists of a recorded message telling you that your credit or debit card has been “locked” or “frozen”. The word “compromised” may also be used, just to make the call seem more urgent or legitimate.

Once the call has your attention, the recorded message asks you to enter your account number to reactivate, un-freeze or un-block your account. When you type this number into the telephone, the caller now has your account number and is able to empty your account of any funds you have in it.

Usually, scammers target the elderly with such calls, but last week, several area citizens of all ages reported receiving the calls, including Lt. Schultes.

“I received the call on my cell phone and it came from a private number,” Schultes said. “I simply hung up because I did not have an account with that company. The funny thing is that I was at work when I received the call and shortly thereafter, other calls started coming in from other county residents and from a local financial institution.”

According to Schultes, this latest scam is just another variation of the traditional scams that try to obtain Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, or other personal information in an attempt to gain access to a person’s bank accounts. Once again, authorities warn area residents to be suspicious of any call or request for private or financial information.

“Do not give the information over the phone hang up,” Schultes advises. “If you have a concern about your bank account, take the time to call your local banker at a phone number that you look up. If you have a concern about your debit or credit card, call the number on the back of the card. If you have concerns about your Social Security number, call the local Social Security Administration office in your area. These local banking officials or customer service representatives will be more than happy to check the status of your account.”

The most recent flurry of calls proves that scammers are a persistent bunch, and the question becomes, “When will it end?”

“The answer, to be honest, is never,” Schultes said. “The best thing we can do is spread the word on these scams and urge everyone to protect all their private information, all the time.”

If you receive such a call, contact your local law enforcement agency or the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office at 712-852-3535.