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Scammers Working Harder To Lure & Victimize You

Today, I have two infuriating examples of people’s recent scam experiences to share with you, and in hopes you about how to avoid being victimized.

Impostor Call: This month, a female Volusia County resident reported to us that she had been scammed out of more than $7,000 and wanted to press criminal charges.

It happened after she received a phone call supposedly from a credit bureau. The unknown caller said she qualified for lower interest rates on her credit cards because she was over age 65. However, once she gave him her credit card and financial information, he placed a $7,000 charge on her credit card. She reported it as fraudulent, but all she got was a runaround and a horrible sinking feeling that she’d been victimized.

Tech-Support Scam: A few weeks ago, an area couple called our detectives to report they had been scammed while the husband was using their computer: A pop-up ad from Microsoft appeared that froze the screen. The ad gave a toll-free number to call to unfreeze the screen. Of course they called for help.
An unknown male tech navigated the computer’s settings, then asked for the victims’ bank phone number to request a lock on the bank account to “protect” their info. When all was said and done, nearly $40,000 had been withdrawn from their account. To stop the transactions, the victims were instructed to deposit more money into a specific bitcoin ATM. By the way, they were directed not to tell the bank why they were withdrawing the money.

The victims complied, depositing $20,000 as directed. The couple were told they would receive all their money back the next day, but it didn’t happen. They also want to pursue criminal charges.
Both incidents are maddening and a nightmare. Unfortunately, they happen with increasing frequency. It’s easy to see how these scams happen, especially if victims feel pressured and don’t take time to think things through.

Scammers are escalating their game with the goal of separating you from your money. Even if only one victim out of 100 takes the bait, criminals are still stealing thousands of dollars from unwitting victims. Unfortunately, seniors are often targeted for scams.

A good rule to follow: If you don’t recognize a caller’s name or phone number—Don’t answer!
These two cases involve identity theft, which occurs when someone uses or attempts to use the private personal information of another person to commit fraud. It’s important to be suspicious when you receive phone calls, e-mails/texts because they may be a scam. There are various types of scams but that’s a subject for another time.

Stop & Think: If someone calls or e-mails you out of the blue and offers a great deal—stop and think. Ask someone you trust whether it sounds legitimate. Never ever—give out your bank account or Social Security numbers, or any personal information, especially over the phone.

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, here are some steps to take immediately, from the Florida Attorney General’s Office:
1) Contact law enforcement. File a police or sheriff’s report, depending on where you live. Include as much documentation as you can. Request a copy of the police report to provide creditors and credit reporting agencies who may request to see it. Call our non-emergency number: 386.248.1777.
2) Report the incident to the fraud department of the three major credit bureaus.
Here’s how to contact them:

Equifax
To report fraud: 1.800.525.6285.
To order a credit report: 1.800.685.1111.
E-mail: www.equifax.com

Experian
To report fraud: 1.888.397.3742.
To order a credit report: 1.888.397.3742.
E-mail: www.experian.com

Transunion
To report fraud: 1.800.680.7289.
To order a credit report: 1.800.888.4213.
E-mail: www.transunion.com
3) Contact the fraud department of each creditor. Report the incident to each creditor, even if your account at their institution wasn’t affected.
4) Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission to: www.IdentityTheft.gov
5) Contact your banks or financial institutions. If you think your accounts have been compromised, close your accounts. Ask to be issued new account numbers if you open new accounts.
There’s good news: You can contact Seniors vs. Crime—a volunteer organization created to help all adults (not just seniors) to avoid crime, scams, and other types of fraud, and to help recover from being a victim. There’s an office in Volusia County and you can make an appointment. Here’s how to reach them:

Seniors vs. Crime Volusia County:
724 Big Tree Road, Room 7, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, South Daytona, FL 32119
Phone: 407. 537.9509; 833.547.5662.
Office Hours: Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
E-mail: Volusia@svcproject.org
Website: seniorsvscrime.com
Phone: 1.800.203.3099

I’m not here to scare anyone but the reality is, scammers are prevalent and you have to stay on top of your game. The Volusia Sheriff’s Office is here to help and you can help too: Just hang up if something doesn’t seem right!

Stay smart and stay safe,
Sheriff Mike Chitwood