It could happen to anyone, anywhere, but there are steps one can take to prevent being scammed over the phone.
In Cannon Beach, police logged two incidents in October. The first occurred on Oct. 13. A caller claiming to be from the Cannon Beach Police Department offered the resident a free security camera installation.
She declined and called the police. “The citizen did the right thing and called us to verify,” Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn said.
The other happened on Oct. 18 and ended with credit card fraud. A caller reporting to be a front desk hotel worker told the citizen the hotel’s computer system had crashed and that they needed to reconfirm credit card information.
The credit card was later used on Lowe’s website. That case hasn’t been resolved yet, Schermerhorn said.
According to the National Consumers League, signs of fraud include pressure to act immediately, a refusal to send information in writing, scare tactics and demands to send payment by wire or courier.
Schermerhorn said it’s best to ask for a call back number and person to contact for verification. “Most times, they will hang up when you ask them this,” he said.
The National Consumers League also suggests people call the companies these callers claim to be with for confirmation.
“What we tell people is to avoid giving out personal information or banking information over the phone,” Schermerhorn said.
Other popular scams include IRS and prize claims.
In one IRS scam, callers claim to be IRS employees, using fake names and badge numbers to convince the target they owe money to the IRS and that “it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer,” according to the IRS.
“If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license,” irs.gov states. “In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.”
According to the Fair Trade Commission, scammers may claim a victim has won an overseas lottery or low cost vacation, and ask for funds to offset offer costs.
Schermerhorn said many scams “occur overseas to the U.S, so there is no way to trace them.”
The Cannon Beach Police Department typically handles 20 to 30 cases per year.
“They are very rarely resolved,” Schermerhorn said, “because they are so hard to find out where they originated.”