Sheriff warns of scam phone calls

I have been made aware of multiple scams circulating throughout the county and wanted to inform residents to be on the lookout and extra cautious when receiving calls or e-mails. Several residents have informed me that they have been contacted by phone by people who are stating they are representatives of Dish or DIRECTV, and are offering half off their monthly bill.

The caller already knows that he is speaking to someone who already has Dish or DIRECTV, so the county residents think they are legitimate. The caller then asks for an up-front payment of six months with eBay cards or Walmart cards. The caller usually has a very thick foreign accent.

When the resident questions about payment by eBay or Walmart cards, the caller becomes upset and in some instances threatens to discontinue service of the resident. Several residents also said their caller ID’s showed DIRECTV. When checking with Dish and DIRECTV, they advised that they do not solicit such offers and advised they are scams. Never trust your caller ID’s, as any name or number can be made to appear on your phone.

Another scam reported is where residents are being contacted by phone with people representing themselves as a collection agency and advising there is a debt owed and paperwork will be sent within a few days. Several days later, residents receive official-looking paperwork from FedEx that looks like a legitimate billing for an outdated debt. It does not disclose what the debt is for, but states that if payment is not received within 10 days of receipt of the FedEx letter, legal proceedings will take place, which could mean garnishment, arrest warrant or both. There is an address listed as payment is requested by mail using debit or credit cards.

When residents try to call the number listed, no one ever responds, but a message is left on an answering machine. So far, no one has fallen victim to this scam that I have been made aware of.

Remember, scammers can make any number or identity appear on your caller ID. Never trust caller ID unless you can actually verify who is on the other end of the line. If you do not positively recognize the caller, hang up immediately. These scammers are highly trained to find some sort of common ground to strike up a conversation with you so they can manipulate you out of your hard-earned money.

They also do their homework; they target the elderly or those who have a hard time making decisions. In many cases, they have already found information about their victim by researching the internet so they have a good idea of your family structure, etc.

I urge anyone who receives scams to report to the Kansas Attorney General’s Office at www.ag.ks.gov, as they do track consumer scams. If you feel you have been made a victim of a scam, call your local law enforcement at once. Also, you can sign up for their no-call list at their website. It will not completely get rid of the scam calls, but it does help.

John Merchant22 Posts

John Merchant currently serves as Brown County (Kansas) Sheriff.

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