Local authorities warn citizens against scams

Mary Rumore
Staff Writer

West Point authorities are urging citizens to protect themselves against phone, mail and email scams.
Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott said scammers pretending to be the Internal Revenue Service was common this time of year because of income tax season.
“They know a lot of people start filing their taxes this time of year,” Scott said. “They call people and pretend to be the IRS, and they say you will be arrested if you don’t send a certain amount of money to them by a certain date.”
Scott said the IRS will never call on the phone to solicit money; they will always send a letter and set up meetings.
“If someone ever calls and says they are the IRS and they will have you arrested if you don’t send them money, hang up the phone and call the sheriff’s department,” Scott said.
Scott said even though most caller ID’s will show a telephone number from inside the United States, most of the scammers operate from outside of the country, and the Clay County Sheriff’s Department will work with local authorities and the FBI to track scammers when they have been reported.
Scott said email and online scams are also a threat to citizens.
“Opening emails from unknown senders and shopping from untrustworthy websites can not only give scammers access to personal information, but put your computer at risk for viruses,” he said.
Scott said using credit cards with low limits instead of debit cards when shopping online or travelling can lower the risk of a credit card scam.
“If your debit card information gets stolen, that money will be taken directly from your checking account, but if your credit card information is stolen, you will have time to get it fixed with your credit card company,” Scott said. “Keeping your credit card limit low will also help in case your information gets stolen, because $1,000 getting stolen would be a lot better than $30,000.”
Scott said anyone wanting personal information, such as social security numbers, drivers’ license numbers or bank account numbers or to be sent money orders or Green Dot cards could be a threat.