By BRIAN FOREMAN Officer, Hoover Police Department
Criminals are always looking for new and different ways to scam victims. We want you to be aware of some of the different types of scams that have been reported to us over the last year so you can protect yourself. Please share this information with your family and friends.
Card Member Services Scam – The victim receives a text message on their cell phone from Card Member Services stating that a credit/debit card has been deactivated. The victim is prompted to call a phone number to reactivate the card. When the victim calls the number, he or she hears an automated message asking them to enter their credit/debit card number and security code. After the victim does this, an automated message tells the victim that his or her card has been reactivated. Criminals can now use the account to make purchases and/or withdrawals.
Publishers Clearing House Scam – The victim receives a phone call from someone who states they are with Publishers Clearing House and the victim has won a large cash prize and/or car. The victim is advised to obtain Green Dot Money Pak cards to pay for taxes, fees and delivery charges. The criminal will get the victim to obtain more and more Green Dot Money Pak cards until the victim realizes he or she has been scammed.
Hotel Room Scam – The criminal calls a hotel and asks to be transferred to a specific room. When the guest answers the phone, the criminal pretends to be an employee at the front desk and tells them that there has been a glitch with the hotel computer. After explaining that the guest’s personal and payment information was lost, the criminal obtains the victim’s name, address, phone number and credit card information.
Alabama Power Scam – This scam primarily targets business owners. The criminal calls up and identifies himself as an employee of Alabama Power and advises the business owner that his/her power bill is delinquent. The criminal tells the business owner to purchase a Green Dot Money Pak card to make payment and keep the power on. After obtaining the cards, the victim calls back and gives the criminal activation codes of the cards. The criminal then tells the business owner that his or her account is now current.
Facebook Hacking – Criminals hack an individual’s Facebook account, change the password so the victim cannot log in, and send out a notice to “Friends” saying the individual they know needs help to get out of a financial bind. i.e., “We took a quick vacation to Mexico and someone stole all our cash, credit cards, and travelers checks! Please wire us some money so we can get home! We will repay any money sent to us!” They then include information on how to wire money overseas.
Telephone Number Cloning Scam – Criminals use a computer program to duplicate the correct name and phone number of Banks, Credit Unions, and other legitimate businesses. They call victims and try to obtain account numbers, passwords, and personal information.
Grandchild in Jail Scam – A Criminal will call an elderly victim and pretend to be a grandchild that was arrested and needs bail money to get out. They beg the grandparent not to tell their parents and ask them to wire the money instead of coming to the jail. Criminals use web sites, like whitepages.com, to obtain information about the names and age of residents associated with an address or phone number.
Jury Duty/Traffic Court Scam – Criminals call individuals and inform them that there is a warrant out for their arrest because they didn’t come to Jury Duty. The victim is given the opportunity to have the warrant recalled if they will pay a fee by credit card over the phone. A variation of this scam is where the victim is told they missed a court date for a traffic offense.
Secret Shopper Scam – The victim is mailed a letter that states they have been selected to be a “Secret Shopper”. A check for several thousand dollars is included with the letter and the victim is advised to cash the check and return the excess in a money order or certified check.
Foreign Lottery Scam – Victims are informed that they won a lottery in another country by mail, e mail, or phone. In order to release their winnings, the victim is required to pay taxes first by wiring money to an account in another county.