Chief Tori Hughes of Patterson Police Services said scammers have made many threats to various residents in their attempts to secure confidential information, and continue to implement an aggressive approach in order to scare residents into paying fraudulent services. The attacks have begun recently this year and have steadily continued throughout the last few months. Scammers have not only pretended to be bill collectors, but also city officials, bankers and local deputies, prompting residents to acquiesce to their demands.
Another recent scam has been targeting people who are living in the state with a Legal Resident Green Card, stating they owe back taxes and property income. The scammers tell residents if the fees are not paid they will have their green card taken away and be deported back to their country.
“As soon as one story starts to lose its steam, they pick up another story to try and trick you,” said Hughes. “They see that it’s working, so they continue doing it. If they are asking for payment over the phone, through email, wiring, it should be a red flag. It’s probably a potential scam.”
Although a release was sent through the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department asking residents to be cautious of the recent rash in scams, Hughes is asking locals to take serious precaution in their billing statements, and offered a series of advice for many uneasy residents.
Hughes suggests that residents only use one card for online purchases—preferably a credit card rather than an account tied to your savings or checking—and be mindful of their account balance at all times.
Community Service Officer Melissa Hardy has also compiled a list of tips and precautionary measures that was released to the public Wednesday evening.
According to Officer Hardy, residents can protect themselves from scammers by following these steps:
1) Clarify what company they are with and what their name is. Don’t allow them to rush through the process.
2) Insist on a copy of whatever the debt is, via email it to you or mail it out in the US Postal mail, they should have your address. Do not give out your address.
3) Verify what your options are to pay the debt. If you are requested to use a disposable credit card or other untraceable items, don’t.
4) Take charge on the call. You control the tone. Clarify everything, and never give out your social security number or other important information or account numbers if you don’t know who you are talking to.
5) Never pay for what you cannot verify.
6) If it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t.
“This is occurring all over the US and other countries because of internet access,” said Hughes. “The ability to trace these people is very difficult. I encourage everyone to constantly monitor your money online.”
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.