According to the Federal Trade Commission, "Crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. They often combine sophisticated technology with age-old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information. They add new twists to old schemes and pressure people to make important decisions on the spot. One thing that never changes: they follow the headlines — and the money."
Scammers often target the elderly and they do their homework before they contact a victim, including searching social media or other online public records to find out as much about an individual as possible.
Some more recent scams being reported to the Beaumont Police Department include:
- IRS contacting individuals by phone, claiming that back taxes are owed and payment must be made immediately to avoid having a warrant being issued or being arrested.
- Utility companies contacting customers claiming that a past due amount is owed and that payment must be made immediately to avoid a service interruption.
- A victim is contacted by an individual who claims a close friend or family member has been arrested or kidnapped and funds need to be wired or gift cards need to be purchased to secure their release.
- Several residents have reported being contacted by individuals in the parking lots of businesses claiming that their vehicle has body damage or needs repairs and that they can fix the vehicle on the spot for a few hundred dollars and then force the victim to pay them cash for services that were either unnecessary or didn't occur.
- A victim is contacted either by phone or in person requesting assistance with obtaining lottery winnings, inheritance proceeds or other funds that require the victim to pay money to obtain the funds for the individual.
Other scams include email messages or links advising victims to enter personal financial information to phishing sites to obtain identification, password and financial data from unsuspecting victims.
Spotting a Scam
There are several ways a scam can be spotted, including:
- The person or caller is insisting that payment be made immediately. Sometimes they will threaten the victim with arrest or other consequences for not making immediate payment.
- The person or caller is requesting payment through unusual sources, such as gift cards, wire transfers, or cash prior to completion of work or without a contract.
- The person or caller is asking for personal identifying or financial information, without verifying where they are calling from.
- The claims being made by the person or caller sound suspicious or improbable.
- The person claims to own a business, but has approached the victim in a parking lot and cannot provide a business license or other legitimate form of identification about their business or services they provide.
- The individual solicits victims to perform work for cash and refuses to provide a contract, receipt, warranty for work, etc.
- The IRS never contacts taxpayers by telephone, correspondence is done through the mail. (Check with your tax-preparer to verify any tax claims).
Avoid Being a Scam Victim
Some tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Do not provide personal details or financial information to anyone over the phone or online without verifying who the requestor is.
- Prior to making a payment to someone over the phone or online verify any claims through another source (i.e. customer service number, company website, contacting account representative, etc.).
- Do not provide payments in the form of gift cards, prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, cash or other unsecured or untraceable forms of payment.
- If a request or claim sounds suspicious, improbable or too good to be true, verify the claim prior to giving anyone payment or financial information.
- Request a copy of a business license, check the Better Business Bureau, California State Contractor's License Board or contact the city to determine if a business soliciting work is legitimate.
For more information contact the Beaumont Police Department Non-Emergency Number at 951-769-8500.