Always be aware of Frauds and Scams. Some people will try to fool you out of money and trick you into giving them your personal information. Don’t be a victim! Listed below are some recent frauds and scams that police are encountering on a daily basis in the Hermon area:
FAKE CHECK SCAM
You may receive a letter in the mail which contains a check that looks real, but is actually fake! You’re instructed to deposit “the check” into your checking or bank account, then send a portion of the money back to the scam artist or third person. They usually tell you to keep a portion of the money as a fee for your time. The scammer usually requests money returned by wire transfer or a re-loadable card. After you send the money, you soon find out that the check that was cashed or deposited is now fake. You just sent money to a stranger and the bank is draining all of your accounts to get their money back. Please don’t fall for this one! If it seems to good to be true, it probably isn’t!
COMPUTER FIX SCAM
These scams usually involve a phone call from someone claiming to “work for Microsoft or another well-known company” . The caller indicate’s they’ve been looking at your computer and have noticed dangerous software popping up. Another version tries to persuade you that your computer has a serious tech problem that needs immediate repair. In both instances the caller wants you to give them remote access to your computer. Don’t be fooled!
If you allow the caller access to your computer, you also allow them to have free reign to your personal information. You also give them the ability to download malware and spyware onto your computer which could infect your computer with a virus. To make matters even worse they will probably lock your computer and ask for a ransom in order unlock it. If you get this call please hang up. If you are contacted via pop up or email about these things, please delete them. Never give someone you don’t know access to your computer. If you’re concerned about your computer’s safety or running ability, take it to a local tech for assistance.
CALLER ID SPOOFING
Caller Identification (ID) is a service that allows someone to see the phone number and sometimes the name or location of the person or business that is calling them on the phone. Caller ID spoofing is the act of fabricating a phone number or business to represent a caller. This technology exists which allows criminals to use or make any number appear on your caller ID. Sometimes the scammers can use “your own number” to spoof others to make it look like you are calling. Caller ID spoofing is an act to trick you into accepting the callers scam. Don’t be fooled!
GRANDPARENT OR RELATIVE SCAM
You receive a phone call and someone claims to be your grandchild or is calling on their behalf. The caller claims there has been a mishap and money is needed immediately. The caller may claim that your grandchild is in jail and may need bail money. They may ask you not to tell your grandchild’s parents in fear of getting in more trouble. Keeping it a secret is always a red flag! Never wire money or give out bank info based on a telephone call. Avoid this scam. Try to call the grandchild on a phone number that you know is accurate. If no contact is made try calling a family member who can confirm your grandchild’s safety. If in doubt, PLEASE contact the police before any action is taken so you can verify if the call is a scam or not.
CREDIT CARD “SKIMMING” DEVICES AT GAS STATIONS AND ATM MACHINES
Credit card and Debit Card “skimming devices” have stolen millions of dollars from consumers over the past couple years. Victims have been found all over the United States and more recently here in Hermon over the past few months. This is a fairly new fraudulent crime which has been working its way up the New England coast towards Maine. More and more cases of this card skimming trend are now being found here in Central and Southern Maine.
“Skimmers” are criminals who use fake card swipe machines and steal credit and debit card information (along with pin numbers). Skimmers have stolen millions of dollars from unsuspecting consumers at gas pumps and ATM machines by cloning your card information.
Skimming devices placed on gas pumps and ATM machines are almost undetectable. The devices are shaped and disguised to blend into the specific model of the machine. The skimmer goes in between the credit-card reader and the circuit board and collects data when your card is inserted. Some devices extract the credit card information, while others are Bluetooth capable and send information directly back to the criminal.
Some skimmer criminals also place “pin-hole cameras” which are attached to the specific machine. These cameras are hidden in attached trim pieces that are blended to match the existing machines trim. They have also been located hidden in attached brochure holders that have been added to the machine. These cameras face and point towards the existing number board on the machine. Criminals can record and collect your pin information when typing in your debit card pin number.
Once criminals collect your card information they then produce fake cards with your information on them. Criminals can then use the cards themselves or sell the cards to other criminals who want to scam your information.
For more information and actual photos of different types of card skimmers and pin-hole cameras click onto the web address below:
HOW TO MINIMIZE RISKS POSED BY CARD SKIMMERS
- Totally avoid becoming a victim and use cash only at the pump. This may also lower the price per gallon by paying with cash at certain locations.
- If using a card at the pump or at the ATM, pull onto the card reader that is attached to the machine. A lot of the skimmer devices will pull off as they are simply placed over the existing card reader. If you do locate a skimming device, PLEASE contact the local police department and report it immediately.
- If using a debit card at the pump, have the card processed as a credit card transaction. The pump will ask if the card is debit or credit once inserted. Select credit so you do not have to enter your pin number at the pump. Your purchase will still be debited from your checking account.
- Look for the fake “pin-hole cameras” as described earlier. These may be difficult to detect but they are usually located in a relatively close location facing the number pad located on the machine.
- Monitor your bank and credit card accounts regularly to identify unauthorized transactions.
Tax Refund Fraud and IRS Telephone Scams
It’s that time of year again when everyone has to file their taxes. In past years people have filed their taxes to only find out from the IRS that someone has already filed taxes in their name fraudulently. We would like to share a few tips to help reduce the risk of becoming a victim of tax refund fraud.
- File your tax return as early as possible. If you can beat the criminals to the punch and your legitimate return is filed first, then any subsequent fraudulent return filings will be rejected.
- Do not provide any personal information in response to requests through email, especially emails that appear to come from the IRS.
- If a member of your family has passed away during the tax year, file a “final” tax return for that individual as soon as possible. Thieves are notorious for filing returns for deceased individuals.
- Be suspicious of phone calls from the IRS. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, request the person’s “IRS Badge Number” immediately and contact the IRS independently to verify the badge number. The IRS will rarely contact a taxpayer by phone and will do so only after many notices have been sent by mail.
You should also be aware of IRS phone call scams. The IRS will not call you and demand immediate payment without having sent you a bill in the mail. The IRS will allow you to appeal any amount you may owe. They will not require you to pay your taxes in a certain way, such as a prepaid debit card. They will never ask you for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone. The IRS will also never threaten to have the police or other agencies arrest you for not paying your taxes.