Several of the local law enforcement agencies across Sumner County have recently issued warnings to residents about telephone scams.
On Thursday, Portland Police Chief Anthony Heavner informed Portland residents about a scam that was happening in Portland. According to Heavner the scam occurred in Franklin, Tennessee and the caller stated they were an officer with the Portland Police Department which was a scam.
The callers are manipulating the caller ID to make the number appear to come from the local Police Department or jail, and then tell potential victims they have an outstanding warrant for an unpaid debt, missed jury duty or some minor infraction and that a fine is due. The callers then convince people to make the payments by wiring it through Western Union MoneyGram or buying a prepaid credit card (like Green Dot) and registering it online.
Heavner reminds residents that if someone calls or emails claiming to be from the PPD that they should verify with whom they are speaking with.
On February 21, the Hendersonville Police Department made similar warnings to the residents of Hendersonville.
Several Hendersonville residents have been contacted by phone by an organization calling itself; the “National Police and Troopers Association”. The solicitors often ask for money orders to be mailed to a Wisconsin address.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is warning consumers to be on the alert for scam artists posing as police. There are variations of this scam in which the caller tells the victim that there are outstanding warrants for the victim’s arrest. The caller claims that the basis of the warrants is non-payment of the underlying loan and/or hacking. If it’s the latter, the caller tells the victim that he or she is wanted for hacking into a business’ computer system to steal customer information. The caller will then demand payment via debit/credit card; in other cases, the caller further instructs victims to obtain a prepaid card to cover the payment.
Look for these signs that a caller may be a Fake Arrest Warrant / fake debt collector if he/she:
• claims that there is a warrant for your arrest. Police do not call first. If you really are in trouble with the law, you will know it. The police will knock on your door or you will receive a certified piece of mail informing you of any legal action that’s being taken against you. If you do owe a fine, you will not get a 15 -minute notice to pay it over the phone.
• is seeking payment on a debt for a loan you do not recognize;
• refuses to give you a mailing address or phone number;
• asks you for personal financial or sensitive information; or
• exerts high pressure to try to scare you into paying, such as threatening to have you arrested or to report you to a law enforcement agency.
What to do:
If you are contacted by someone who is claims there is a warrant for your arrest or is claiming to collect a debt that you do not owe, you should:
• Ask the caller for his name, company, street address, and telephone number.
• Tell the caller that you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written “validation notice.”
• Contact your local law enforcement agencies if you feel you are in immediate danger;
• If you gave out information about your bank accounts or credit cards, contact your bank(s) and credit card companies;
• Contact the three major credit bureaus and request an alert be put on your file;
• If you have received a legitimate loan and want to verify that you do not have any outstanding obligation, contact the loan company directly;
• File a complaint at www.IC3.gov.
• The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
If a caller refuses to give you all of this information, do not pay! Paying a fake debt collector will not always make them go away. They usually make up another debt to try to get more money from you.
Stop speaking with the caller.
If you have the caller’s address, send a letter demanding that the caller stop contacting you, and keep a copy for your files. By law, real debt collectors must stop calling you if you ask them to in writing.
Do not give the caller personal financial or other sensitive information.
Never give out or confirm personal financial or other sensitive information like your:
• date of birth,
• bank account,
• credit card, or
• Social Security number
unless you know whom you’re dealing with. Scam artists, like fake debt collectors, can use your information to commit identity theft ‘ charging your existing credit cards, opening new credit card, checking, or savings accounts, writing fraudulent checks, or taking out loans in your name.