Scams -- Beware!

Scams are always evolving to use new techniques and technology.  Today’s tech-savvy scammers utilize all types of methods to gain access to accounts, convince victims they represent a legitimate entity, or collect your personal data and access codes.  Some general awareness tips are:

  • Look for “skimmers” when using a ATM or remote credit card reader.  These are attached to the true devices but “skim” data from your card by reading the magnetic strip.
  • Be aware of “phishing” technology – “phishing” or “spoofing” is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.  This can be done with home phones with caller ID, cellular phones, or by email.  if you receive an email or phone call that shows a business but they are asking for confidential information, don’t give out the information.  Call the business or agency directly; or go to their office to verify they need the information.  Most accounts are not verified through email or a phone call.
    • Recently, criminals are creating realistic webpages (Phishing) of commonly used business; banks, credit card companies, utility companies, Amazon, USPS and internet service providers to steal information from unsuspecting victims.
    • The common theme of all these scams is the payment of funds utilizing gift cards and pressure to get them quick! The criminals are able to provide information that pertains to the victims' accounts in an attempt to convince the victim that they are a trusted business entity.  Some situations include; needing checks repaid, family members in need of immediate funds or civil and criminal fines paid via gift cards. No legitimate business or government entity will ever require payment of funds via sending gift cards and PINs to an unknown individual!
    • Once the criminals have the gift card number and PIN, the card balance is emptied in a matter of minutes by other groups around the country.  This practice makes investigation and prosecution of these crimes very difficult.  Making matters worse, since the gift cards were purchased willingly by the victims, all be it under fraudulent pretense, the credit card companies may hold the victim responsible for the repayment of the charges. 
    • If any resident suspects fraudulent activity, hang up and immediately use a verified phone number or email to contact the legitimate business.  If intrusion or fraud has already occurred, change all passwords immediately and terminate any remote access by the fraudulent party.  If a crime or suspected crime has occurred, contact the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction of the crime to file a report.  In addition, victims are entitled to one (1) free credit report from each of the agencies each year.  If victims obtain one Experian, Transunion and Equifax report spread out over 12 months, they can monitor their credit for additional fraudulent activity every four months. 
    • Below is a list of trusted resources that residents can use to obtain additional information regarding gift card frauds and scams.  In addition, there are links to frequently asked questions related to fraud alerts and credit freeze with the credit bureaus.
    • Any additional questions can be sent to
  • Traditional scams involve solicitors offering services for a variety of services.  Get estimates from local sources and insist on references from other local customers.

Identity Theft