OCEAN COUNTY – If it seems too good to be true, or too weird even, it probably is. But scammers love to prey on people’s fears or ignorance. Area police are warning residents to be skeptical of phone calls, emails, or even letters that prey on those things.
A scammer may have some personal data, such as the last four-digits of someone’s social security number. Posing as the IRS, they threaten to arrest people they claim have unpaid taxes. But the IRS will only contact a taxpayer through the mail. If someone has questions about a communication received, they should call the IRS at 800-829-1040, not another number provided by the scammer.
Another scam tries to get grandparents to send money to a grandchild, or military families to send money to a soldier overseas. Whoever it is who needs money, they need it wired immediately “or else.” People are encouraged to never wire money to anyone. Confirm with a trusted family member at a recognized phone number first.
People who receive letters or phone calls about winning a sweepstakes, usually ones they never entered, are then asked to pay a fee or provide account details to receive the prize. Do not provide this information, as it is probably a scam.
Law enforcement has these other tips to follow:
- Don’t wire money to anyone.
- Don’t open unsolicited or unrecognizable emails.
- Don’t rush into hasty decisions, which are often bad decisions.
- Call the local police department to report suspicious activity.
- Check on social media accounts to see what information is public, and change privacy settings.
- Shred documents with personal information on it. Local municipalities have shredding events throughout the year.
- Check credit reports to track fraudulent charges. Everyone is entitled to one free credit report annually. Reports can be ordered from annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports, or call 1-877-322-8228.