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Newport News Now

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Newport News Now is a daily e-newsletter that launched in March 2016. Articles that ran in our newsletter between March 2016 and March 2018 are available on these pages. Newsletters produced beginning in April 2018 can be viewed on our new daily newsletter page.

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Oct 24

How to Identify Phone and Email Scams

Posted on October 24, 2016 at 8:30 AM by Communications Department

A message from the Newport News Police Department

October is Crime Prevention Month and to help citizensscam_sc, the Newport News Police Department is sharing tips to help better identify scams. Due to increasing technology, scammers across the world are targeting citizens and duping them into giving up hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars.  The Newport News Police Department is aware of several incidents where people have lost nearly their entire life savings and in some cases, their homes due to fraudulent scams. The best way to protect yourself from being a victim is to learn about current trends in scams.  

Here are a few to watch out for:
Free Vacations and Prizes.  Take caution when you hear or read on email or phone, “Congratulations!  You’ve won a free cruise to the Bahamas!  To claim your reward…”  Or, you found that you won a lottery that you never played.  In these cases, scammers are attempting to get your personal information or your credit card and banking numbers.  However, the majority of the time, they are just trying to get you to give them your money.  A major red flag to watch out for with these scams is they will ask you to first pay a fee to collect your prize.  If you’ve won something, then you shouldn’t have to pay for it. 

Debt Collectors. Phony debt collectors are a bit discouraging because of threats they can make.  If you get a call from a debt collector, ask for their name, phone number and company information, then promptly end the call.  Scammers make these calls in attempt to collect detailed information about you or to get your money.  Do some research and contact the company the person is calling from to verify if the debt collector is real.  Additionally, know the rights you have when debt collectors call you.  The Federal Trade Commission enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to protect consumers from deceptive, abusive, or unfair debt collection tactics.

IRS and Warrants Threats. The most stressful of all scams is the IRS and warrants scams.  Receiving a threat you’ll be arrested can cause much undue stress.  These scams are designed to make you panic.  You or someone you know may have received phone calls from a person or a “robo” recording claiming to be the police, sheriff’s office, or IRS.  In some cases, they will say there is a legal action, law suit, or process against you.  The caller associated with these scams can be incredibly convincing.  To intimidate you even more, you could receive a letter or a warrant in the mail.  They may know your full name, date of birth and social security number or a portion of it.  The IRS will NEVER request immediate payment from you over the phone and a police or sheriff’s office will not ask for payment in lieu of arrest.  Additionally, no agency will ever mail you a warrant or a copy of one.  A major red flag for this scam is when they ask you to purchase loadable cards from a convenience store or pharmacy.  Additionally, they may ask you to wire your money by MoneyGram and insist to stay on the phone with you while you complete this task.
These are just a few scams we see here in Newport News.  There are more scams out there and new ones will continue to pop up.  The best thing you can do is stay educated and warn others about scam callers.  If you receive a scam phone call, contact your local police department and report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission.