Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Continues to Warn Public about Telephone and Social Media Scamming Techniques
The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office continues to receive reports of telephone calls to citizens throughout the county that are suspicious in nature and are characteristic of the same calls that law enforcement has warned the public about throughout the southeast region over the past year.
According to the Federal Communications Division, “Spoofing” is a commonly used technique where a person can hide or falsify the telephone number that they are calling from. The name of the person listed on the caller ID may not be accurate for it can also be manipulated and changed to a false identity.
Calls can be altered to appear as if they are originating from a financial institution, a business, government building or any other location from any area code. The caller may appear to be calling from a site nearby when in fact they could be calling from another state or even from another country.
Messages may give instructions to respond to prompts which will in turn call back a local law enforcement agency in an effort to make you think that the call is legitimate.
The ability to track or trace the origin of these types of false calls is extremely difficult and in many cases the actual location or identity of the caller can never be verified.
The public should be reminded that it is never a good practice to give any personal information over the telephone or social media. Several recent scams involve messages that ask you to return a call to a law enforcement officer with instructions to pay fees or fines over the phone to avoid criminal charges or additional penalties.
A law enforcement officer most likely will NEVER ask you to provide personal financial information over the telephone and citizens should avoid any conversation where you are being asked by an individual posing as a law enforcement officer or other unfamiliar person to put money on any type of pre-paid card.
Citizens can always contact the law enforcement agency and ask to speak directly with the officer that has allegedly left a message so that verification can be made to determine if a phone call was legitimate. Merely confirming that a particular officer by that name works at an agency may not be absolute confirmation that the call was not fraudulent. In many instances, the caller will falsely use the name of an actual employee in an attempt to add credibility to his request.
Scams asking you to send bond or bail money to relatives outside of the local area are also common schemes to fraudulently take your money. If you have a close relative that will be traveling outside of the country, establish a code word or sentence to verify their identity should they need to contact you before they return.
Never use social media to discuss any of your personal information that you do not want to be disclosed to the public and certainly do not post your plans or intentions to be away from your residence or to go on vacation which can alert a potential thief to target your home.
The practice of “checking in” on social media plays directly into the hands of the criminal for you have now informed him of your physical location and that your residence or your personal property may have been left unattended.
At the end of the day, if a telephone call or message causes you to become suspicious then it probably should be avoided and certainly if the deal or offer sounds too good to be true then trust your gut instinct and disengage from the conversation.