HAYS COUNTY – The Hays County Sheriff’s Office responded to several scam reports recently, which is something that residents should pay close attention to.
This week, a resident received a call from a local number. The caller identified themselves as an employee of the Sheriff’s Office using a real employee’s name and upon call back, the voicemail answered as “Hays County Sheriff’s Department Warrant and Citation Division”.
Scammers often obtain names from staff directories and pose as those employees while soliciting money in the form of cash, gift cards, or other payments, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Scammers will “spoof” the phone number presented on caller ID and make it appear that the call is coming from a legitimate business. However, recent scam calls have been coming from a 737 area code, which is a new area code in the San Marcos area, but all of Hays County Sheriff’s Office numbers have a 512 area code.
The Hays County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind residents that no legitimate business will ever request nor demand payment by gift card. If anyone requests payment by gift card, it is best to hang up and block the number from future contact.
How to avoid common scams
Listed below are 10 tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that can help.
1. Spot imposters.
Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes in the form of a text, phone call or email.
2. Do online searches.
Type a company or product name into a search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam” or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can 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. Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.
5. Consider how you pay.
Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.
6. 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.
7. Hang up on robocalls.
If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal and often, the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.
8. Be skeptical about free trial offers.
Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.
9. Don’t deposit a check and wire money back.
By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.
10. Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams.
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