Police Warn Against Falling Victim to Phone Scams
Investigators say older residents are prime targets for scammers.
Manassas City Police are warning residents to be suspicious of people who call on the phone, asking for money and personal information such as bank routing numbers or social security numbers, as they may be scammers.
Thousands of people fall prey to phone scammers, who often claim the victim is the winner of a “MegaBucks Sweepstakes” and only needs to wire $2,500 to a Internal Revenue Service banker in Miami to get $35,000 cash prize, Manassas Police said this week.
Scam calls are almost always high-pressure, unexpected and a threat to anyone with a phone number.
Always remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never pay to have money sent to you, give out your personal information to someone who calls, or feel obligated to send someone money just because you receive an unexpected gift from him or her, according to Manassas Police.
Fraud is defined as the deliberate deception of a victim with the promise of goods, services or other benefits that are non-existent, unnecessary, never intended to be provided, or grossly misrepresented, according to Manassas City Police. Con artists also use fake charities to get try and gain money from their victims.
A particular cunning thief can tug at the victim’s heartstrings by associating themselves with populations in need, such as animals, children or victims of a natural disaster, police said.
A criminal might even call a veteran and claim to be a veteran his or herself, pressuring the victim to donate money so they can “help others like us,” police say.
Other scammers may call pretending to be a family member in distress who needs money wired to them right away.
While anyone can be a victim of fraud, older people are particularly vulnerable, according to police.
This is because criminal believes that senior have large reserves of money from life savings, pensions, social security and home ownership.
Many seniors fall victim simply because they more available because they don’t work.
Tips to avoiding Fraud from Manassas City Police
Never give bank account, credit card, or personal information on the telephone
- Never give your information to persons who state they are from your bank or credit card company. If you have concerns or questions about your account, contact your financial institution directly.
- When a caller asks you for a charitable donation, ask questions. Does the charity serve the local community? Can they provide you with a website, or send you written materials in the mail? Is the organization a 501c3 charity, and will your donation be tax-deductible? Will they provide you with necessary documentation for your taxes? Will all of your donation will go to the charity, or will a percentage be given to the telemarketer? Most importantly, will they allow time for you to think it over? If the answer to the last question is “no”, hang up the phone immediately. No one from a legitimate charity organization would pressure you into making a quick decision.
- Decide once a year how much money you are willing to give to charity. That way, you can politely decline a solicitation by letting them know that you have already budgeted your donations for the year. When you do decide to donate, stick to charities you are familiar with and names you recognize (Red Cross, Humane Society, etc.).
- If you think a call may be fraud, HANG UP! The phone is yours – you decide to whom you would like to speak. If you would rather not hang up on someone, tell the caller you will have a family member speak to him or her instead.
- Add yourself to the National Do Not Call List by visiting donotcall.gov and clicking on “register a phone number." You can also send a letter or postcard with your name, address, home phone number (including area code), and signature to:Telephone Preference Service Direct Marketing Association PO Box 1559 Carmel, NY 10512
Suspect you've been a victim of fraud. Don't be embrarassed. Get help. National Fraud Information Center at 1-800-876-7060. The Federal Trade Commission also has valuable resources online at ftc.gov. For additional information, contact the Manassas City Police Department Community Services Section at (703) 257-8092.