I’ve posted before about how the same old cons that criminals have always used simply get reshuffled and reused in different ways today.
I want to supplement that post with some new (or rather old) scams to hit the news in recent months involving phone scams and door to door cons.
The utility company con
You need your power and your water, and if the “authorities” call or come to your home and tell you that you are late on a payment or that you owe more, or that you risk losing your power, then what do you do? Some people simply pay, believing that they are really dealing with the power company.
A number of people in Florida are reporting that they’ve received contact from people purporting to be from the Gulf Power Company claiming that people need to pay them or risk losing their power.
Others actually receive calls or visits from people claiming to be police. They are requesting money or say they will put the individual contacted in jail. These con artists are using fear to motivate people into giving them money, and it’s working. Often, they will target seniors, but that’s not always the case.
The deportation con
In Pocatello, Idaho, reports of a con that targets people from other countries, including students and professors, is making the rounds right.
Someone calling from what appears to be the Idaho State Police claims that there is a warrant out for the person, or that they are facing deportation. Naturally, the only way to remedy this problem is by paying a fine over the phone.
The police say these types of calls are always a scam. They will not contact people regarding a warrant in this manner, and they will not request payment for a fine over the phone.
Door-to-door con artists use high-pressure “sales” tactics and fear on seniors to get them to pay. One such incident happened to Cheri Rowe’s mother. Cheri says that a representative claiming to be from a home security company contacted her mother at her home and told her that his company would be taking over for their old security system company, and that she would be paying him and his company. According to experts at security companies, this “trick” has been around for years. The gist of it is that the salesperson gets the senior to switch companies unwittingly, and the victim actually ends up having to pay two bills.
Keep safe from the con
Many of the con artists who are using the phone to conduct their scams are actually from out of the country, and that makes investigation and prosecution of them difficult.
Listen to your instincts. If you receive a call or a visit from someone claiming to require money for your utilities, hang up, find the actual verified phone number for the entity you are supposed to pay, and talk with a billing agent directly.
A little bit of forethought, and perhaps watching out a bit more for the seniors in your life, can help to curb these types of cons before they do any more damage.