DEMOTTE, Ind. — Phone scams have been on the rise dramatically over the past few years and DeMotte has been targeted a lot recently.
“We have been getting two to three calls a week recently regarding possible scams,” said DeMotte Police Chief Tom Jarrette. “I know over the years where some local residents have been victim to scams ranging from $50,000 to $100,000.”
If you are not sure if you are the target of a scam, especially a phone scam Jarrette says to call the police department.
“We will check in on it first,” added Jarrette. “Most scams are trying to get your personal or bank information and more recently they are trying to get you to purchase prepaid credit cards for them. This area is getting hit pretty hard right now with scams. Don’t hesitate to call us if you have questions.”
Jarrette added that residents can call 911 or the police department’s non-emergency number 219-987-3344.
Statistics show that phone scams are on the rise. Americans lost nearly $19.7 billion from phone scams in 2020 — more than double the amount lost in 2019 (Source: Truecaller). An estimated 56 million US residents lost money from a phone scam in 2020. This is an increase of 30 percent from the previous year.
The advances in technology have made scamming easier via the phone, and the money made is quite lucrative.
Example of local scams:
Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) can be found on the web at www.NIPSCO.com.
The OFFICIAL NIPSCO CUSTOMER SERVICE NUMBER is 800-4NIPSCO (800-464-7726). Their website likewise addresses these scams. “They reinforce that they will never ask you to pay a bill via a gift card or send you to acquire an alternate payment source,” added Jarrette. “People are being called and told they have an outstanding debt with NIPSCO and that they should go to a specific store and obtain Green Dot Visa Cards, Money Pack Payment sources, or similar methods. They are instructing persons to call them back at a specific number. Do not call them back and hang up if you receive one of these calls. Many people have recently found themselves out of work and may actually be behind on their bill. It would not seem odd that they would receive a call and the temptation to settle the outstanding balance for the lesser payment option would be most welcome. However, please don’t fall for this. Call the official number above and square your account, or payment plans with them when you know you are talking with a legitimate representative of NIPSCO.”
These types of scams can be initiated over the phone or through the mail, both by letters delivered to your home or computer-based email. The letters or phone calls may look or sound official and may indicate that you owe money or are owed money.
They will attempt to get you to provide financial information regarding your bank accounts, social security numbers, etc. Legitimate IRS communications can be confirmed by going to links provided at the IRS website located at http://www.irs.gov. You can contact the IRS about a letter received, by following the appropriate link.
From the Internal Revenue Service Website: The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages, or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords, or similar access information for credit cards, banks, or other financial accounts.
Computer Repair and Warranty Scams
The caller tells you that they are a representative of Dell, HP, Compaq, IBM, or Apple and they are calling to update your computer due to a virus or other general security matter.
Simply tell them you don’t have the internet or a computer. Do not confirm who you are. Note their phone number if you have Caller ID. When you see this number again don’t answer. The numbers are usually blocked or are web-based numbers and the calls are generally coming from overseas. If you mistakenly confirm that you do have a computer first, then do not allow them to have remote access, do not tell them who your service provider is, do not give them credit card information for a fee needed to “diagnose your computer”. Just tell them you are not interested and hang up. If you are getting persistent calls from the same number, call your phone provider and tell them the type of call you are receiving and see if they can block this number for you.
If you think you have a virus-infected computer, contact one of the local computer shops in town. Never deal with a person over the phone, unless you called them.
Your Number Was Left On My Windshield, Car Crash Scam
You get a phone call from a person, who says their car was just struck in the parking lot while they were away from the car. When they got back to the car, your phone number was left on the car saying you had struck them. They will then try to get personal information, insurance information, or try to get you to initiate a payment outside of insurance to settle the matter.
If you know that you didn’t hit anyone, tell them that you are going to call the police department and speak to us with them about the phone call you just received and hang up. If you think it is possible that a family member has a car away from home and they could have left this note legitimately, tell them you will do some checking and call your family member. If your family member did not leave the note, do not call the number back.
If they call you again, tell them that you are going to call the police department and speak to us about the phone call you just received and hang up. In both cases call your local police department and let them know that you received a call and have them log the information. That way if an outside jurisdiction should call, they can be notified that you tried to do the right thing.
Your Relative Is In Jail, Bond Scam
These calls have been happening for years. Again they are trying to get you to divulge personal information. Have them provide you with the exact location and name of the facility of the alleged incarceration. Get their phone number. Then hang up and get the official telephone number of the specified jail through directory assistance or internet search. Call that jail directly and see if you have a family member in jail, that needs your assistance.
“eBay” or Other Sale Site Scam
These usually occur when you have an article for sale. An over-enthusiastic buyer will contact you and either through conversation or out of his own volition will send a check for the item, with a grossly over the sale price, check, or money order. They will assure you that you can cash it. You do, and then the instructions start, ship this, send money here, etc.
Stop this scam at the outset. Agree to a price on your item and accept only payments that exactly match the sale price. If they ask you to deviate from the sale terms of the item, flags should go up. Stop dealing with them immediately.
Report them to your site administrator, such as “eBay”, “Craigslist”, etc.
Rarely, but sometimes, these online sales include; items that may have been the subject of theft before being posted for sale. If you have any questions about an item’s validity, bring the physical item to the police department. We will check the serial numbers on the item for you to determine if they have been reported stolen. We will not check numbers for you over the phone without being able to seize the item if it is stolen… and we will be required to seize the item. If there is to be an exchange of property (not shipped), and you are uncomfortable with this, have the person meet you at our police department parking lot for the exchange.
Out of Country Bank Deposits
NO ONE SENDS FREE MONEY! If you get an email, a phone call, a letter in the mail with a check, it’s a scam. Don’t even think about getting involved. Shred the check, hang up the phone, don’t open the email or its attachments. These people will have you deposit the money and the bait and switch will occur, as will the harassment and threats to follow. Just stop this by never getting it started.