Have you received calls from an unknown person saying you’ve won money? Have you been sent a check someone you didn’t know asked you to cash for them? These are a few of the most recent scams the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is warning people about.
Scams like these are spreading across the nation, according to law enforcement.
Over the phone, a person you do not know or have never dealt with may come across as knowing a lot of information about you.
Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. said he is familiar with cases where people claim to be calling from a tax service and ask for a lot of personal information, like date of birth, social security number or driver’s licence number. They find people who do not file income taxes and ask for their information in order to claim them as a tax dependent.
Another scam Clemmons said he has heard about from Richmond County residents is one in which a person calls you to notify you of your sweepstakes win.
“If you know you haven’t applied for a sweepstakes, then you know you didn’t win anything,” said Clemmons. “No one is that lucky. If you are answering your phone, tell them you are not interested. If you are told you have won something you didn’t apply for, tell them you are not interested. Never give out vital information over the phone to anyone unless you recognize them and have done business with them for quite some time.”
If you receive a check from someone you don’t recognize asking you to cash it for them, beware that you could become part of the fraud if you take the check to the bank. If the check goes through, you could end up owing the bank that money, according to Clemmons. However, he said banks have become aware of these situations and examine checks more thoroughly before cashing them.
Clemmons said he wants seniors to know not to be pressured on the phone. He said seniors are often targeted because they give up information readily without asking questions.
And the perpetrators?
“These people, who get caught up in the mix, are usually people who have fallen on hard economic times and hope to get something for nothing,” said Clemmons about the scammers.
If you talk to a possible scammer on the phone and they offer to meet you someplace or come to your house, the sheriff advises you do not try to meet with them.
“Hang up the phone and call the Sheriff’s Office,” he said.
Clemmons encourages anyone who thinks they are a victim of fraud to call the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident. He also recommends you check your credit from time to time to make sure you are not being taken advantage of. Checks that have names on them should be cut up, shredded or burned.
In order to report possible fraud, call the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at 910-997-8283.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.