Submitted by Joe DeAngelo.
(Dec. 4, 2020) — Your Haddam and Killingworth Resident Troopers would like to take a few moments to provide some information pertaining to scams that will hopefully be beneficial moving forward:
The best and most effective way to avoid falling victim to a scam is to identify the scam attempt as quickly as possible and not fall for it in the first place. Being proactive and being able to identify some of the tactics that these crooks use is the best way to avoid finding yourself in an undesirable position. Never provide personal information to someone who contacts you by phone, e-mail, social media, etc. claiming to be a representative of a company or organization that you may/may not do business with. This includes, but is not limited to: Social Security numbers, account passwords/PIN numbers, date of birth, account information, etc.
For example, some common examples of scams that criminals have been known to use include:
- Receiving a phone call stating that a friend/family member is hurt or in legal trouble (often out of state or out of the country). In these instances, the scammer will often ask that you provide personal information, such as bank account information etc. In many instances, scammers will often request victims to go to local retailers, purchase gift cards, and provide the account numbers to the scammers via phone. They will suggest that “payment” is required for bail, for example, in order to get their loved one out of jail; or to get them medical care. The scammer will also attempt to discourage their intended target to contact the police (usually for an arbitrary reason). Always be suspicious if someone requests you to go out and purchase gift cards or send money via services such as Western Union; as these methods are essentially untraceable and when the money is gone, it’s gone. Remember, these criminals are professionals and can be very convincing!
- Receiving a phone call (usually an automated message) from someone claiming to be a representative of the IRS. Never provide personal information or Social Security numbers to anyone over the phone or via e-mail. The IRS will not contact you via phone or e-mail; correspondence will be sent via US Mail. Many scammers are using technology and automated systems to place “robo calls” to unsuspecting victims which contain information similar to what is noted here:
“This call is from the Department of Social Security Administration the reason you have received this phone call from our department is to inform you that we just suspended your Social Security number because we found some suspicious activity so if you want to know about this case just press one thank you.”
“We have received a notification regarding your tax filings from the headquarters which will get expired in next 24 working hours. And once it gets expired after that, you will be taken into custody by the local cops as there are more serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment. We would request you to get back to us so that we can discuss about this case before taking any legal action against you.”
Both of the above are actual examples of scams that are circulating currently. Due to advanced encryption and technology that is available to scammers, it is exceptionally difficult, if not impossible, to track them down.
- Door-to-door solicitors should always have photo identification visible. They are also required to pre-register and check in with Town Hall prior to soliciting door-to-door. If you are not interested in a product/service that a solicitor is attempting to sell, you are completely justified in asking them to leave; to which they are required to comply. Should they refuse, or if their legitimacy as an actual representative of an actual business is questionable, please call Troop F at 860-399-2100 to report the suspicious activity. A detailed physical description of the person(s) and any vehicles that they may be traveling in is also extremely helpful to Troopers who respond to investigate.
- COVID-19 related scams. Scammers are now utilizing the COVID-19 pandemic as part of their efforts to attempt to solicit money or information from potential victims. For example, people tend to me more prone to conduct business online/from home due to concerns about traditional shopping or going out in the community in general due to the virus; which creates new opportunities for scammers.
Of course, the previous examples are not all-inclusive and scammers are continuously finding new techniques and strategies to exploit their targets. The best defense against these types of scams is building awareness which will help citizens to recognize these incidents. Many of these scams depend on the criminals creating a sense of urgency so that the victim feels they do not have any time to validate what they are being told. Often, by simply slowing down and not becoming overwhelmed with stress (which is a common technique that Scammers utilize), citizens are often able to recognize these scam attempts prior to falling victim. By taking the time to make a few additional phone calls and conducting some research, in most cases, potential victims should be able to identify these scams.
If you or anyone you know has become a victim to one of these scams, especially if it involved the transferring of money, a report should be submitted to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3) https://www.ic3.gov/Home/FileComplaint
If you or anyone you know has become a victim of identity theft a report should also be submitted to the Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) online reporting tool at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/ . Your Resident State Troopers are able to provide advice and instruction on how to re-secure your personal information and to hopefully prevent future scams or identity theft related crimes that criminals may attempt with the information that they may have obtained. The non-emergency number to State Police Troop-F (Westbrook) is 860-399-2100, Option #4 from the automated system.