Police warn how to look out for scams

Published 4:07 pm Friday, November 23, 2018

LANETT – With the joys of the holidays also comes the individuals who are looking to make a dollar at the expense of other people’s hard-earned money.

Scammers are consistently calling random numbers to tell those on the other end of the phone the IRS needs personal information, and if it is not provided that person will be arrested. Other tricks include scammers telling unsuspecting citizens their social security number has expired and information is necessary to update it.

Lanett Patrol Commander Richard Casner said there are a few ways to know a scam is coming.

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“The easiest way to recognize a scam is that IRS is never ever going to call you and say you’re going to be arrested if you don’t answer now,” he said. “They have a system in place where they would send people to your door.”

He said a government agency is also never going to ask people to pay money over the phone or ask for personal information because the agency would have it already. If this happens, it’s a scam.

“Never give personal information over the phone,” Casner said.

He said the vast majority of individuals who are affected by scams are elderly people, and usually, once they been hooked, they continue to send money. Additionally, most of the calls come from out of the country, and the best the police can do is get on the phone and tell the scammer to stop calling.

“After they have been scammed, they are too prideful to report it, and they’ll let it go,” Casner said. “These people are out of the country, there isn’t much we can do. But we can help them get a report to take to their bank or credit institution to show they have been scammed and let them take it from there.”

Casner said people shouldn’t open emails that they didn’t ask for or don’t recognize. If a person wants to take it a step further, look for validity online through reputable sources and if a person can’t find any information on the sender, the email in question is probably a scam and should not be opened.

West Point Police Chief Donald Britt said people should also avoid using public Wi-Fi to purchase anything and all internet shopping should be done at home.

Giving to charities is also big business during the holidays, but scammers set up fake charities to steal people’s money, Britt said. Individuals can check out www.charitynavigator.org to verify if a charity is legitimate or not, he said. 

He doubled down on calling the police if a person has been scammed because, at the very least, a case number can be created and it tells the credit card companies what happened. Also, if the police know where the scam may have occurred, there are avenues to explore.

“I know it’s embarrassing, but if we know what happened, we may be able to pinpoint when something happened in the store,” Britt said.

Kelvin Collins of the Better Business Bureau said people need to be aware of fake websites during the holidays as well. He said to look for URL’s that use the names of well-known brands along with extra words. Also, he said to look for https in the address, which means it’s a secure website and to even look for the lock symbol in the address bar.

For more holiday tips from BBB, visit www.bbb.org.