Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:
Another phone scam targeting Humboldt County residents has left one victim out over $1,800.
The victim told the Sheriff’s Office that she received a call from someone claiming to be with the Texas Department of Justice, with a matching caller ID coming up on her phone. The scammer told the victim that she was in trouble with the Social Security Department due to someone registering 25 houses in her name in Texas, which she never claimed on her taxes. The scammers also went on to say that in one of those houses law enforcement located 25 pounds of narcotics. The scammer claimed that if the victim hung up the phone she would be arrested and sent to federal prison.
The scammers then reportedly told the victim that in order to rectify the situation she would need to go purchase three Target gift cards and read the card numbers to the scammers. The victim was instructed to not answer any other phone calls or talk to anyone about the call.
Residents across Humboldt County have contacted the Sheriff’s Office reporting a multitude of phone scams, many of which begin with a recorded voicemail claiming to be with Social Security or law enforcement.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public that law enforcement and other government agencies will never demand payment in exchange for dropping a warrant or stopping an investigation. Additionally, no government agency will ask you to mail large sums of cash or pay with gift cards or pre-paid money cards.
Remember these tips to help protect yourself from fraud:
1. Spot imposters
Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity or a company with which you do business. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request – whether it comes as a text, a phone call or an email.
2. Do online searches
Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
3. Don’t believe your caller ID
Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
4. Talk to someone
Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.
5. Don’t rely on personal information
Living in the digital age, access to information is easier than ever. Scammers are often able to get their hands on very personal information, providing it to their victims to make their scam look more legitimate. Don’t trust a scammer who is able to provide your personal information. If you followed the above tips and still aren’t sure, call back at a publicly listed number for the organization from which the scammer claims to be or contact your loved one directly.
Report phone scams
Sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s scam alerts at ftc.gov/scams.