Don’t let a phone scammer get access to your information
Phone scams cheat people out of their money.
Imagine this scenario: Someone calls your cell phone and tells you a relative has been
arrested or is the subject of a warrant. That someone also claims you need to send money to get your loved one out of trouble.
If you’re in the dark on phone scams, you may be talked into sending that money – then never see it again.
Cherry Hill police are trying to change that by issuing a warning about phone scammers who pretend to be township officers. This kind of identity theft is also known as spoofing: when a caller disguises a sender name or phone number to convince you that you are interacting with a trusted source and should provide information or funds over the phone, according to the FBI.
The caller ID may also appear on your phone as the number for a police department or emergency service. Don’t fall for it.
While the goal in spoofing is to impersonate an individual, a similar phone scam called phishing involves a caller trying to extract a victim’s sensitive personal data.
These kinds of scams are a national problem. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data show that consumers nationwide reported losing nearly $8.8 billion to general fraud in 2022, an increase of more than 30% over the previous year. After investment scams, the second-highest reported loss came from imposter scams, to the tune of $2.6 billion, up from $2.4 billion in 2021.
The agency also received reports from 2.4 million consumers last year, with the most commonly reported fraud being imposter scams, some of which also include fake calls about prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries, investments and business or job opportunities.
According to statistics from the AARP, the median age of scam victims is 60 and above, with sharp increases among those 80 and older.
It’s “overwhelming,” said U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland when asked about what the federal government is doing to fight such fraud. He noted that while the Department of Justice is dedicated to the effort, it’s challenged by the fact that these crimes are “innovative and constantly changing.”
So how do you avoid being the victim of a phone scam?
It helps to know that a police officer or other law-enforcement member would never call to ask for a fine to be paid or claim a family member is the subject of a warrant or arrest, according to Cherry Hill police, and the authorities do not solicit monetary donations.
Financial and other personal information should never be provided over the phone to unverified individuals and businesses. Don’t believe a caller who claims to be a representative from a government agency asking about your Social Security, Medicare or taxes, or who claims to be a debt collector or utility company.
Most of all, don’t call the suspected phone number on your screen.
If you think you’ve been scammed, hang up and call the local non-emergency police line at (856) 665-1200. You can also report your situation to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at (877) 908-3360, or the FTC by phone at (877) 382-4357 or by text to (866) 653-4261.