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Safety Tips

TELEMARKETING FRAUD AND SCAMS
Tips from Sheriff Mike Lowell and the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office

Unfortunately, telemarketing fraud and scams will always be with us. Sheriff Mike Lowell and the staff of the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office want to help you protect yourself from becoming a victim.

What To Watch For

Telephone scams take many forms, but have a lot in common, regardless of the con. Be alert that it’s a scammer on the other end of the line when the caller tells you:

•   “You’ve won a cash prize, a lottery, or a vacation,” but must pay for legal fees, taxes, postage and handling, attorney’s fees, etc. before you can collect.

•   “You must act immediately or the offer expires.”

•   “You have to send cash, a check, or money order or provide a credit card number or bank account number.” You will be assured that all this is routine and nothing to worry about.

•   “You don’t need to check out our company.” 

Sometimes the initial call will be followed up by someone identifying himself as an attorney or higher-ranking company official. These follow-up calls are all part of the scam and are intended to help lure you in.

You might also receive in the mail a very official-looking check made out to you for a large amount of money. The scammer will direct you to deposit the check right away, then send his company a check for “legal fees, taxes, postage and handling, attorney’s fees, etc.”  The check you’ve received is bogus, and you’ll be out the money you send the scammer.

When you receive calls like this, simply hang up.

How to Protect Yourself

Start out by remembering that if you are scammed, the chances of getting your money back are virtually zero.

Never send money or provide personal information like bank account or credit card numbers, dates of birth, or Social Security numbers to companies you are not familiar with or to people you do not know.

If you are contacted by a charity you’re not familiar with, ask the caller what percentage of the money is paid in commissions and “operating expenses” and what percentage actually goes to the charity or the cause. If the caller cannot provide the information, resists providing it, tries to change the subject, or begins talking in circles, exercise extreme caution – many scammers skirt the law by providing a tiny percentage of donations to the charity or cause, and retain the rest for commissions and “operating expenses.”

If you receive a call you suspect to be a scam, notify law enforcement

Remember, always, the number one rule to avoid being conned:
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is