By Audra Sellers, Maui Police Department
Phone “scams” are possibly as old as the invention of the telephone. As long as there have been “confidence men” – now more generically known as con artists – there have been creative plots to separate you from your money. Currently in Maui County the two known and most prevalent telephone scams are: Scammers pretending to be family members requesting money, and the Publisher Clearing House Scam where the scammers are falsely utilizing the Publisher Clearing House name, requesting payment to claim the “big prize.”
Each year millions of dollars are lost to telephone scams. Don’t become a victim, protect your personal information, know who you are talking to and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. With the increase of information on the internet, Scammers can obtain personal information from family blogs, genealogy and social networking sites and may be very convincing or “pushy”.
When using the telephone never provide bank accounts, pin numbers or Social Security numbers. If you are called and asked to verify information about your credit cards; if the caller claims to be a bank representative, hang up and call your bank directly using a valid number from a telephone book or the bank’s web site. If you get a call saying you’re a winner, don’t pay money to collect supposed sweepstakes winnings. Legitimate operations won’t require you to pay to collect your winnings.
Never wire money to anyone with whom you are not familiar. Check any unfamiliar area codes before returning calls and be aware that there are many 3-digit area codes that connect callers to international telephone numbers. If you get an emergency medical call regarding a loved one in an accident, and money needs to be provided for medical treatment, verify the information and location of the accident. Notify the police and request information. Typically in an accident, emergency medical treatment is not contingent on immediate payment.