Scammers have perfected the art of lying and deception. They prey upon the most innocent and caring people. This often is the most senior members of our community that may be lonely and just enjoy having someone to talk with. They are beyond scoundrels in sheep’s clothing and will say whatever necessary.
Please make it a priority to talk not only with the most vulnerable, but every family member. A simple conversation with a seemingly nice person can result in lost wealth, mental anguish, and in many cases, identity theft. Scammers will take advantage of an individual as often and many times as possible; they will keep coming back and have no conscience.
So here is simple, common-sense advice on how to identify and avoid a scam.
First and foremost, under no circumstance talk to these people. If someone contacts you and you don’t know them, hang up. Use caller ID to screen calls from the unwanted. If you haven’t contacted someone about buying, selling, banking, taxes, a warrant or warranty, medical issues, or any personal business, they are a suspect.
If approached at your home, close the door on them; reputable businesses do not go door-to-door and ask for deposits before any work is done, whether it’s a roofer, paver, or candlestick maker.
Remember, as hopefully you were taught, nothing is for free in this world. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Anyone dangling large sums of money, or a ridiculous opportunity is trying to scam you. Anyone trying to tell you they’re looking out for your best interest due to the IRS, a warrant by local law enforcement, or your financial wellbeing is a flat-out con artist. Anyone telling you you’ve won something you never entered to win, and you need to pay to receive the prize is a flimflammer. The scammers are on a fishing expedition and will dangle whatever bait needed to reel you in and get personal information. They are polished by the deceit of evil.
The most important thing I can tell you in today’s world is never give out personal or financial information to anyone over the phone, computer, in public to the scammer that comes to the door. Remember anybody that you do business with or doctor with already has your information.
Please be wary of another common con — somebody that has a sob story. These people seek out family, friends, and people they know. They prey upon the generosity of good folks willing to help.
Never give money to anyone just because they have a problem and a sad story. Check it out and make sure the person soliciting the help is legitimate. Remember, the person that you are willing to help may have a drug/alcohol or gambling problem. The worst thing you may do is give the money directly to them.
If you do choose to help, directly pay for the automobile repair, electric bill, tuition, groceries, heating bill, etc., you name it — you pay the provider directly!
I recently talked with Lycoming County Sheriff Mark Lusk; someone actually called the sheriff’s office and pitched a scam. He immediately called out the individual who had a foreign accent and identified himself. They replied disrespectfully, laughing, “There is nothing you can do; I’ll just call someone else.” and hung up.
The following are the official thoughts from Sheriff Lusk’s desk.
Please share this VERY SERIOUS SCAM information with friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family: this week, our Office received calls from residents of the County who were receiving phone calls (at home, at work, and on personal cell phones) and text message SCAMS. These SCAMS are as follows:
1. There is a warrant for your ARREST out of Washington, D.C. or
2. Your Social Security Number has been compromised, and you are asked to provide personal information to verify or
3. You receive a text message stating that the last day to get a License to Carry Concealed is December 8, and you are to visit a provided website to renew it.
Below is a summary of how to safeguard you from becoming the victim of any SCAM:
1. Under no circumstances should a resident ever provide any personal information by phone when receiving any calls unless the resident personally knows the caller.
2. Never provide credit card info, social security number, date of birth, bank information, etc., to anyone whom the resident does not personally know or with whom a resident has not initiated the call.
3. Note any telephone number of the caller that is indicated on the resident’s telephone system.
4. Document the conversation with the suspect making the call.
5. Disconnect without providing any information to the caller.
6. Call the office of the Lycoming County Sheriff at 570.327.2280 if a resident has any concerns that he or she may be a wanted person or to inquire if the Office of Sheriff has any reason to make contact with you. Note: The Office of Sheriff does not conduct business in this manner by telephone.
7. Any residents who have ALREADY received any calls similar to these described are requested to call the Office of Lycoming County Sheriff to report the calls. Scammers who are questioned by YOU will become very uncooperative typically and do not want to be questioned at all.
8. Criminals are able to access much of our personal information simply with the use of personal computers and websites that have our personal information. Such sites are “white pages and social media sites,” etc.
Please share this information with friends, relatives, and neighbors in an effort to prevent them from becoming a victim.
As your Sheriff, I personally apologize to any residents who have received any such calls from any individuals in this attempt to commit fraud and possibly identity theft. Please call our Office if you have ANY concerns regarding this type of activity.
Let’s be careful out there.
God Bless America.