Two new phone scams to avoid

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pearl River County residents should be wary of unsolicited phone calls requesting personal information.

The Picayune Police Department reports that they have obtained reports of residents receiving phone calls requesting personal information.

One scam involves the scammer pretending to be a representative of the Social Security Office. The caller will tell the victim that if they provide their personal information the person can receive an increase in the amount of their monthly benefits. 

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If the victim falls for it, the scammer calls the real Social Security Office and has the monthly payments deposited into an account the scammer has access to.

Capt. Lane Pittman said the scammers almost got away with this trick on a local resident, but the victim called the Social Security Office and fixed the problem before a payment was made. 

If anyone has received a phone call of this sort and feels their personal information has been compromised they should contact the Social Security Office and ensure their account has not been changed, Pittman said. 

Many times scams are perpetrated by people living in another country, but the use of special software displays a local phone number, Pittman said.

Another scam the department has received reports about deals with alleged phone calls from Publisher’s Clearing House claiming the victim has won a prize, which can range from cash to a new vehicle. The caller will instruct the victim to purchase a Green Dot card, or some other prepaid credit card, with a value of $300 and then call a certain number to receive further instruction in order to collect their prize. 

The people who have reported these scams state that while on the phone they can hear what sounds like a call center in the background.

These are just two types of scams reported recently. Assistant Chief Jeremy Magri said most scams are not reported to the police department.

Magri suggests being careful about providing personal information over the phone.   

“If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not true,” Magri said.

When in doubt, an Internet search can shed a little light as to whether the caller is legit. A lot of people who catch a scam in action will post the number used on the Internet, along with some information about the scam.

Mail scams are also popular. To help identify these Magri suggests paying attention to the postmark on letter; if it’s from out of the country and unsolicited, it may be a scam.