LĪHU’E – In light of recent scam alerts from residents and businesses, the Kaua‘i Police Department is offering the public tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.
“Scams can occur over the phone, via e-mail and on the Internet,” warns Assistant Chief of the Investigative Services Bureau Roy Asher. “Citizens must be proactive in protecting themselves from scams, because once someone has taken your money, it is unlikely you will get it back.”
Some of the more prevalent ongoing scams involve claims that an individual has won a sweepstakes, or has a loved one who is in financial distress. It is also typical for scammers to impersonate a government agency, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), particularly during the tax season.
Newer scams claim to be from reputable local businesses, such as banks and utility companies, threatening to cut off services unless a payment is made immediately. Generally, these scammers request payment over the phone or via wire transfers.
The Better Business Bureau also issued a warning this week about a nationwide cell phone scam. Consumers have reported getting “hang-up” calls from unknown numbers. When the recipient attempts to return the missed or disconnected call, they are transferred to an internationally-based entertainment or chat line that results in unauthorized charges.
“Never send money or release your personal or financial information to an unknown individual,” urged Assistant Chief Asher. “If you believe you are being contacted by a reputable business, hang up and call that company back at its publicly listed phone number.”
In addition, KPD offers these prevention tips:
- Do not answer or return calls from unknown numbers.
- Use caution when responding to unsolicited calls or e-mails, or unknown individuals on social networking sites.
- Check your bank, credit card and phone statements regularly. If you see an unknown or unauthorized charge, immediately notify your bank or service provider.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
- Children and senior citizens are popular targets for scam artists as they tend to be more trusting of unknown individuals. Responsible family members should help to keep them safe.
If you suspect a scam, please call the Kaua’i Police Department at 241-1711.