Scams cost people, companies and organizations millions of dollars and countless hours of dealing with identity theft each year, and to some extent, they happen in the greater Tehachapi area, too. What can be done to prevent becoming a victim?
“Never give your personal information over the phone such as your Social Security number, credit card number or those types of information, and shred everything,” Tehachapi Police Chief Kent Kroeger said.
Tehachapi residents reported more than 30 scam incidents to Tehachapi Police in 2018, and it's possible there were thousands more that went unreported, with scammers trying to gain personal information or money, said Key Budge, community relations specialist for the city.
"We have seen scammers posing as law enforcement or the courts also threatening arrest if they don’t clear up a ticket or some other type of obligation. Same result; they always want your personal information for the purpose of obtaining money," Budge said.
Some common forms of scams that pop up most often in Kern County are people requesting information and claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service or Jury Duty, posing as a grandchild or claiming to issue an arrest warrant if demands are not met.
All scams have red flags in common: Scammers ask for information over the phone, act aggressive or pushy and threaten action if a person doesn't provide information, said Ashley South, crime prevention coordinator for the Kern County Sheriff's Office.
“If in doubt, get the information the caller is listing, their number, hang up the phone, call the police station or go by and ask if it's a scam,” South said.
The IRS and other governmental agencies will not call by phone and ask for personal information.
“Even if they know your information ... do your research. Hang up and dial the institution directly,” South said.
One common scam is spoofing. The recipient of the phone call will see a local number, which the scammer uses to mask the true phone number with a software application.
Everyone is at risk, especially senior citizens.
Many seniors fall victim each year to scams such as false magazine subscriptions, "free" vacations that request money, contests, calls claiming to offer a prize or work-from-home schemes.
“They know that seniors are more friendly, more often will talk to strangers and they are lonely,” South said. “Do not be threatened or tricked into giving personal information over the phone.”
Victims can place a hold and monitor a credit card number immediately, report to law enforcement and financial institutions, and shred important documents, said brochures from KCSD.
For more information, visit ftc.gov.