Hang up and verify: SCSO issues phone scam warning

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office issued a telephone scam warning Wednesday.

The department said it has seen a large increase in phone scams and wants to help you avoid becoming a victim.

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Earlier this week the Oxford Police Department also sent out a warning.

FOX13 spoke with the Better Business Bureau of the Mid South who said these calls have skyrocketed in the last year.

“One of those phones is always ringing. And email, don’t let me try to check my email. Ooh, Lord,” said Barbara Shearer of Memphis.

Shearer said she’s at her wit’s end. She is constantly bombarded with scam calls on her house and cell phones.

“They want to sell me insurance and life alert systems,” said Shearer.

According to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Shearer is not alone. The agency sent out this news release warning scam calls are up and to beware.

Daniel Irwin with the Better Business Bureau said scams across the board are up. These include phishing emails, robocalls, and sweepstakes.

“As you can see people are falling for these scams, but they’re also losing more money than ever before,” said Irwin.

Irwin said if you get these calls start by hanging up and verifying.

“Report these calls you get. Report them to the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission,” said Irwin.

Fortunately for Shearer, she said she has never been fooled by these scammers.

“I tell them, I’m not giving you that credit card number, or the last four digits. And I’m not giving you my social security,” said Shearer.

Irwin said he believes these scams are up because of the pandemic. More people are home answering the phone or surfing the internet and checking their email. All that opens the door for scammers to take advantage of you.

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A typical scam begins when someone calls and claims to be with some organization (such as Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, IRS, Social Security, a Law Enforcement Agency, Publishers Clearing House, a Bank, etc.). The scammers claim your computer/smartphone was hacked, you have a warrant out for your arrest, you won a prize, your social security number was stolen, you owe the IRS money, etc. This approach is being used to get you, as the victim, very emotional, either scared or excited, hoping that you will lose judgment long enough for them to complete their scheme.

In many cases, the scammers will ask you to purchase some type of gift card. In other cases, the scammers will request

bank account information and trick you by claiming they will use it to deposit money into your account for various reasons.

A huge red flag in the scammer’s plan is when they request you to purchase gift cards, and they demand that you stay on the phone throughout the entire process.

If you receive a possible scam phone call, remember to HANG UP and VERIFY.

You should look up the organization’s phone number and then call them to verify the information you were told.

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