By Kristen Miller
DASSEL-COKATO, MN When it comes to scams, the Dassel-Cokato area is no exception, area law enforcement officials warn residents to beware and not to be tricked over the phone.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Wright County Sheriff Joe Haggerty.
Phone scams continue to be the number-one under-reported crime. Either the people who become victim to the scam feel foolish, or people realize the call is a scam, hang up, and don’t report it.
Although there is little success tracking the culprits, Haggerty said it’s important to inform local law enforcement agencies so that they can inform and warn the public “of the latest and greatest scams,” Haggerty commented.
Within one week, there were three phone scams reported to the Enterprise Dispatch, each a different type.
The first scam involved a Microsoft scam. Although the target hung up before any damage was done, the scammer was attempting to take over the computer curser in an attempt to get into the person’s bank account, Haggerty explained.
Another scam attempt was reported by a woman who received a call that she had won a large cash prize. The caller even tried legitimizing the call by saying it could verified with the respective county sheriff, in this particular case, Meeker County Sheriff Jeff Norlin.
Haggerty noted that he was also mentioned in a similar call, in which the person fell victim to the scam and lost thousands of dollars.
MoneyPak describes the scam on its website:
“You get a notice that you’ve won a lottery. You don’t remember entering, but then again, you might have.
“To collect your winnings, you have to pay fees or taxes, right away. Rather than send a check or wire the fees or taxes, you’re told to buy a MoneyPak for the right amount and simply send the numbers (on the card). But if you had to pay, it was a purchase not a prize. You didn’t win anything. You’ve been scammed.”
MoneyPak has issued these tips to protect against fraud.
• Never give your MoneyPak number to someone you don’t know.
• Never give receipt information about your MoneyPak purchase to another party.
• Use your MoneyPak only to reload your prepaid cards or the accounts you control.
• Refuse any offer that asks you to buy a MoneyPak and share the number or receipt information by email or phone.
• To use your MoneyPak with PayPal or eBay or other online merchants, transfer the money to your PayPal account before you pay the merchant. Don’t email your MoneyPak number directly to any merchant.
• Don’t use the MoneyPak to pay taxes or fees to claim “winnings” on a foreign lottery or prize promotion. Unless it’s an approved MoneyPak partner, don’t use MoneyPak for any offer that requires you to pay before you get the item.
• Check the list of approved MoneyPak partners before you use your MoneyPak to pay.
Another scam was a recorded call that was from someone posing as a Internal Revenue Service (IRS) representative.
The IRS issued a warning and gave tips to recognize when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. There are five things scammers often do, but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam:
The IRS will never
• call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
• demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
• require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
• ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
• threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
Anyone getting a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, should do the following:
• If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
• If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
• If you’ve been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use its “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
The IRS does not use email, text messages, or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.
Haggerty advises that these are only a few of the scams going around, and that there will always be new ones to dodge. For example, there is currently an Xcel Energy scam in which callers report the customer’s bill is overdue and they must pay with a credit card or their electricity will be shut off.
To protect yourself, he suggests not giving out credit card or banking information over the phone unless you initiate the call.
Anyone who gets a call that may be a potential scam or who has become a victim of a scam, are advised to contact their local enforcement agency’s non-emergency number.
For links to more information on the most recent scams, visit www.dasselcokato.com under Featured Links.