The following is a news release from the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office.
IDAHO FALLS — Phone scams are common in eastern Idaho, and the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office wants you to be aware of one that’s becoming increasingly more frequent.
It involves suspects identifying themselves as officials of the Bonneville County Courts, Sheriff’s Office, or other local government entities.
The scammers tell victims they haven’t paid fines or fees, that there are outstanding warrants for their arrest and that they’ve missed a court hearing or jury duty. Law enforcement agencies from around the state have experienced many versions of this type of scam that ultimately culminates in asking victims for money to resolve the problem under threat of law enforcement coming to arrest them or warrants being issued.
The biggest commonality is when victims are asked to provide credit or debit card information over the phone or to go to a local store and purchase a money card or some type of gift card to transfer the money to the suspects.
This method of paying to take care of whatever problem is being sold to the victim is the biggest red flag people should be aware of if they receive these types of calls.
Typically, people are already aware of ongoing court actions, owe fines or fees, or have missed some type of court hearing they’re involved in. Even if there is a legitimate outstanding warrant or fine, no government entity calls to solicit money over the phone to resolve it. And they never will.
While there are methods to call the courts and government offices to pay outstanding fines or fees over the phone, that process only happens when you contact that entity directly and ask if you can pay – never the other way around.
Law enforcement and government offices contact people every day for a variety of reasons, some of which could be tied to an outstanding fine or fee. Most of these issues require the person to resolve it in person in front of the courts or at a government office. There are times when law enforcement or government officials help facilitate a resolution to an issue, but again, they will never ask you to pay money over the phone by way of gift cards or money cards to accomplish it.
If you receive one of these phone calls and are unsure whether or not it is an actual deputy, officer, or government official, you can always verify which agency they represent, hang up, and call directly to the office or agency in question to make certain there is a valid reason for the call.
Always be watchful of the phone number and area information the call is coming from, and if the reason for the call is unusual, out of the ordinary, or suspicious in nature, you can always hang up.
It’s also a good idea to frequently monitor your financial and internet accounts for suspicious activity, change your passwords often, and be careful of the websites and links you visit.
Suspects making these scam calls often pull enough of your personal information from the internet to make themselves seem like they are believable in the portrayed purpose of the call.
If you have been a victim of a scam and suffered a monetary loss, always make a report to your local law enforcement so the matter can be investigated and passed on to state and federal agencies to track potential sources and suspects.