A reader: I got a call from a man who said he was a police officer and that I had missed jury duty. I don’t remember getting a notice that I was supposed to serve. The man said that I now had a warrant out for my arrest. He said I had to pay $2,500 and that would take care of the warrant. He told me I could only pay the $2,500 through PayPal. When I tried to ask questions, the man was rude, yelled at me and told me if I did not pay the money, they would arrest me. Can this really happen?
Action Line: Scammers are constantly changing their tactics. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) funded research to better understand these tactics. The study found that many of these techniques are similar to marketing approaches used by legitimate businesses. The difference is that a “hard sell” from a legitimate business may simply mean you end up buying something you really don’t want or need. A scammer takes your money and leaves you with nothing.
The man who called you was attempting to make you the latest victim of a scam. I truly hope that you did not send the money. If you have truly missed jury duty, the real law enforcement agency will send you a letter or serve a warrant at your door. They will NEVER call you.
If the caller is aggressive, rude impolite or unprofessional, you can be sure that it is a scam. Most of the time, the scammers use throwaway cellphones and by the time you report the scam to law enforcement that phone may be disconnected. This is just another attempt at phone fraud.
Here are some tips for those kinds of calls:
• Don’t ever let a caller intimidate you.
• Never send money anywhere to anyone just because they told you to.
• Don’t give out your personal information to someone you do not know.
• Scammers will try to use your good manners to try to take advantage of you.
• Scammers will also use your fear to take advantage of you.
• Government agencies will never call and threaten to arrest you.
• Debt collectors can’t threaten you.
If any of these things happen, most likely it is a scam. Hang up.
If you do become a victim, contact your credit card company, your bank or anyone else connected to the form of payment you submitted to try to stop the transaction. Contact your local police department to file a report. You can also file a report with BBB at www.bbb.org/council/bbb-scam-stopper, where you can also find lists of top scams and scam-fighting tips.