Fraud Prevention and Information on Scams
Arm Yourself with Education - Don't get Scammed!
If you think you are being scammed, it's probably true. Many times there will be a red flag. Sometimes MANY red flags. And yet people still want to believe the best in people and they fall for it. Below are just a few of the most common scams and tips on how you can avoid them. Don't get ripped off!
RED FLAG - You must ACT NOW!
Scammers want to instill fear. It might be fear of arrest, the fear of getting your power shut off, or fear of missing out on an incredible opportunity, award, or investment. They try to convince you time is of the essence! If they demand you act now, don’t fall for it!
RED FLAG - They Want you to Buy Gift Cards
Some scammers ask you to make restitution in the form of gift cards. Others ask you to send cash tucked in a magazine, or wire money to an odd location. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t do it!
RED FLAG - We Overpaid you, Please Send Back the Difference
Did you get a check in the mail you weren’t expecting? Sometimes scammers will contact you and say they accidentally gave you too much. They instruct you to deposit the (worthless) check and pay them the difference. By the time your bank tells you the check bounced, they’ve already taken your money!
RED FLAG - Strange Email Address
Depending on what software you use, a sender’s email address might display two things: the address (e.g. email@example.com) and/or a username (e.g. John Doe). Scammers are sneaky. They might impersonate someone you frequently communicate or conduct business with. They might mimic your associate’s email address, changing only one character (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), while keeping the same username. At a glance, you might not notice this discrepancy. They’ll ask you to make a change, like sending money to a new or different account.
RED FLAG - Fraudulent Real Estate Listings
These are sometimes posted to sites like Craigslist or via social media. They might even include a legitimate address and name of a legitimate realtor or agency. Once contacted, the scammer will likely ask for a deposit or some other form of payment. They might even offer a bank account to wire or deposit the payment into. Do some research! Be informed!
RED FLAG - The Arrested Relative
Some scammers call and pretend to represent a law enforcement entity, and say that one of your relatives was arrested in a random jurisdiction. Sometimes, they even impersonate that relative over the phone. They ask for bail money, court fees, claim they have to pay fines. Sometimes they even threaten to arrest you or say there is a warrant for your arrest!
RED FLAG - IRS/Social Security Administration
Scammers might impersonate any one of these (or other) companies and agencies. They threaten you with consequences if a mistake or oversight is not corrected immediately. Be aware that the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration would never contact you by phone or by email. They make it clear they always correspond through the U.S. Mail.
RED FLAG - Award/Prize/Grant/Inheritance
Scammers try to make you believe you are receiving some sort of inheritance or prize but in order to collect, you need to prepay fees or taxes. Does it sound fishy? It’s probably a scam.
RED FLAG - There's a Problem with your Computer
Some scammers claim over the phone there’s an issue with your computer. They ask you to log on and then tease information out of you while you’re trying to help them ‘fix’ the problem. They may ask you for your password, or other personal information. Don’t fall for it! Nobody is going to call you and tell you there's a problem with your computer. If you have ever actually experienced problems with your computer, you know it's YOU who needs to reach out for help to fix it.
in 2020, there was a huge crime wave involving fraudsters filing for unemployment benefits using the identities of others. If you are a victim, we recommend taking the following steps:
• File a police report using the CopLogic system online, accessed through www.kitsap911.org
• File a report with the Employment Security Department through https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/unemployment-benefits-fraud
• File a report with the FBI through www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
• File a report with the Federal Trade Commission through https://identitytheft.gov/
• Notify the credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion)
Tips and Prevention
DON'T RUSH. It's okay to tell callers that you are going to verify the information they provided and call them back.
DON'T TRUST the information the caller provides to you. If they claim to be your credit card company and provide a callback number, tell them you're going to verify the information and give them a call back. Then take the time to look up ACTUAL customer service number for your credit card company (on the back of your card) and call that number to verify whether the call you received was legitimate. Even if you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the BIPD and they need to ask for personal information regarding a case, explain that you are going to verify the information and give them a call back. Then call the station number and verify.
DON'T BE AFRAID to get a second opinion. If you’re ever unsure, call your bank using a number you verified yourself, or contact local law enforcement. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for their opinion!
DON'T GIVE AWAY your personal information! If someone claims to be calling from your bank and they ask for personal information, hang up. If it really is your bank, they already have that information on file.
DON'T HESITATE TO REPORT having been scammed. There's nothing to be embarrassed about. It happens to many, many smart people. If scamming didn’t work, scammers wouldn’t make any money and would move on to more fruitful endeavors. If you can help stop someone who scammed you, you might be sparing someone else the same heartache. Whether or not you decide to report locally, please go to www.ic3.gov and report there. It's the website used by the FBI to identify and track scams. When they pick up on a pattern of criminal activity, they are better equipped to act.