Local law enforcement warns against scams

By: 
MARY RUMORE
Staff Writer

The West Point Police Department and Clay County Sheriff’s Department is warning citizens against scam calls.

WPPD Chief Tim Brinkley said the best way to avoid getting scammed is by not answering the phone if an unknown number is calling.

“It if is important, whoever is calling will leave a message,” Brinkley said.

Brinkley said to never give out any personal information through the phone, including family members’ names or addresses.

“Asking for your mother’s maiden name is a huge red flag,” Brinkley said.

Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott said the best thing to do if you suspect a call is suspicious is to hang up the phone.

“The more you interact with them, the more information they can get and the more they will keep calling,” Scott said.

Brinkley said stolen personal information can be used to create bank accounts in your name, or bank account information and money can be stolen.

Brinkley said some scammers may also have personal information, but they will call and ask questions to try to confirm if the information is accurate by asking questions over the phone.

Most of the scammers calls come from countries like the Philippines and West Indies.

“If money or information gets outside the country, it is almost impossible to get back,” Brinkley said. “It turns into a federal case, and there are just too many cases.”

Scott said scam callers can use the internet to make international calls appear to come from a local number.

Brinkley said many scammers target the elderly because they are more likely to answer the phone during the day.

“If you are a caretaker for an elderly person, check regularly to make sure they haven’t given out any information through the phone or online, and encourage them not to talk to anyone they don’t know on the phone,” Brinkley said.

Brinkley said scams can also come in the mail, through e-mail or on social media, and it is best to be cautious when using a credit or debit card anywhere.

“Debit cards especially have a direct tie to your bank account, so you have to be careful where you use it,” Brinkley said. “If you suspect your credit or debit card has been hacked, first contact your bank and then they will direct you to the police.”

Scott said to use caution responding to anything received in the mail.

“If you get something in the mail that seems too good to be true, like a check or giveaway, it most likely is,” Scott said.

Scott said many scammers will also pose as the IRS or a law enforcement agency. “The IRS will never contact you through the phone,” Scott said. “They will send you a letter and schedule a meeting with you in person.

Also, if a law enforcement agency says you owe a fine or you have a warrant out for your arrest and you know that you don’t, then it’s a scam.” Scott said to contact the CCSD or WPPD if there are any suspicions about phone calls or mail.

“We’re here to help,” Scott said. “Don’t hesitate to call. I would much rather help you determine if something is a scam than wait until it’s too late and try to recover your money or personal information.”

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