How to protect yourself from phone scams

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The following is a news release from the Idaho Falls Police Department

Idaho Falls – Idaho Falls Police continue to see a number of people in our area falling victim to fraud and scams. Many are convinced to send money to scammers promptly to avoid a negative consequence.

The most common scams the Idaho Falls Police and the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office have seen recently are attempts to invoke fear in people to encourage immediate payment.

For example, some scammers are impersonating utility customer service agents who threaten to shut off utilities if payment is not received immediately over the phone. Police are also seeing more scammers impersonating law enforcement officials. Some callers have said a warrant from unpaid fees has been issued and if it isn’t paid immediately by phone, an officer will be sent to arrest them.

If a scammer calls, here’s what to do:

  • Know the common signs of a scam. Scammers typically ask for payment to be made by untraditional means, such as by paying at a store which has MoneyGram or Western Union service. Others request payment by requesting the purchase of pre-paid gift cards and ask for the numbers on the card.
  • If you’re just not sure whether the call is a scam, ask questions such as asking for the billing office phone number and tell the caller you will call them back. Then verify the number is correct by checking your billing statement or looking it up online.
  • If you’re fairly certain the call is a scam, hang up and block the phone number from calling you again.
  • Report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission online at ftccomplaintassistant.gov or by phone at 1-877-382-4357.
  • Make sure your phone number is on the National Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov. This is a free service. Calling lists are a common way for scammers to get phone numbers.

If you do become a victim of a scam, meaning you’ve lost money due to a scam, that is when you should report it to your local law enforcement agency. You can reach Idaho Falls public safety dispatch at (208) 529-1200.

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