The Mason County Sheriff’s Office would like to warn the public regarding criminals taking advantage of citizen’s good intentions in the spirit of giving, or being coerced by scare tactics. According to Sheriff’s Office records, there has been an unusually high call load in the last several months regarding fraud, telephone & email scams and identity theft. Criminals are posing as many different types of people, attempting to trick you into making you provide your personal information. The following list is to help you understand just a few of the theft schemes that criminals are using this season:
- Criminals posing as employees of Public Utility Districts, Water & Sewer Companies, Telephone/Cable/Cellular Telephone Carriers etc., calling you and/or emailing you and/or texting you and threatening to disrupt your service because they did not receive a payment. Do NOT give them any personal information, credit card information, etc. Utility companies will mail you late notices and may even have a collection agency call you, but they will NOT ask you to provide personal, credit card, etc., information over the phone or email!
- Criminals posing as Law Enforcement Officers, etc., calling you and threatening to come and arrest for you for any outstanding warrant, failure to pay a court fee, etc. Do NOT give them any personal information, credit card information, etc. No Law Enforcement Agency in the USA will threaten to come and arrest you if you do not provide personal, credit card, etc., information over the phone!
- Criminals posing as friends of family members or officials representing family members, calling you that your family member has been arrested, in an accident, etc., and that they need money to pay for helping your family member, etc. Do NOT give them any personal information, credit card information, etc. Ask where the person in question is and/or what agency, hospital, etc., that you need to contact. Do not use any contact information that the person may attempt to provide. Look up the contact information yourself and call the alleged agency, hospital, etc., but do NOT provide personal, credit card, etc., information!
- Criminals posing as Bank/Credit Union employees, etc., calling you and/or emailing you, claiming that they have lost your account information. Do NOT give them any personal information, credit card information, bank information, etc. Banks/Credit Unions already have all of your information.
- Criminals posing as fund raising groups, companies, non-profit organizations, etc., knocking at your front door and/or calling you and/or emailing you wanting your donations. Do NOT give them any personal information, credit card information, etc. If they are at your door, ask for them to leave a donation form. Then, check it out to see if they are an established and credible non-profit organization. The best way to participate in any fund raising is to know that your charitable contributions are going to supporting a cause that you specifically know, i.e., local churches, schools, shelters, etc., and/or established national organizations like the Red Cross, etc.
- Criminals posing as representatives from the IRS, calling you and/or emailing you, claiming that you have not paid your taxes from last year, and/or that your tax return failed to have certain items included in your income and/or some of your deductions were reviewed and determined that they did not qualify for a deduction. Do NOT give them any personal information, credit card information, etc. The IRS already has your personal information and if there is a problem with your tax return, they will mail you a letter along with documented information.
- Criminals posing as employees from mail order and/or shipping companies, etc., calling you and advising that you purchased an item, but that they cannot ship it out because you did not pay enough shipping. Do NOT give them any personal information, credit card information, etc. Hang up, review your order and call the number of the company that you conducted business with in order to confirm any purchase and/or shipping problems.
Sheriff Casey Salisbury stated that we are attempting to help educate people from falling victim to fraud. What is very unfortunate is that when the unsuspecting citizen provides personal information and loses their savings, most of the time the suspect(s) is/are located out of state and the Sheriff’s Office cannot provide assistance.