Phone Scammers Hit Harder During Holiday Season. Protect Yourself

Big Bear, Ca, December 8, 2011, 1:00pm - Big Bear Valley Residents should take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from scams asking for personal information.  Recently residents in the Big Bear Valley have been called by people posing as their bank, and have been asked to give out personal bank information.  According to Public Information Officer for the Big Bear Sheriffs Station, Tiffany Swantek, scams like these go in cycles, and tend to become more frequent around the holiday season.  Scammers tend to target the elderly, so residents who have senior relatives in the valley, should remind them to never give out personal information on the telephone.  The Big Bear Sheriffs Station has the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of a scam: 

  • Discard any solicitation that asks for payment for a “free” gift.  If it’s free, or a gift, you shouldn’t have to pay.
  • Never give your credit card number or personal, financial or employment information unless you know who you are talking to.
  • Discard any solicitation that doesn’t clearly identify the company and its street address and phone number.
  • Pay particular attention if you’re asked to call a toll-free number for more information about a project or service.  Often, when you dial what you think is a toll-free number in response to a bogus solicitation, you are secretly connected to a pay-per-call 900 number.  In such case, you will be paying to listen to a sales pitch for a product, service, prize, contest or sweepstakes.
  • Discard any solicitation that looks like a government document and suggests contest winnings or unclaimed assets are yours for a small fee.  The government does not solicit money from citizens.
  • Discard any solicitation for a “prepaid” or “special deal” with a nominal monthly “processing fee.”  You’ll save yourself years of monthly payments for products or services you no longer want or could pay less for elsewhere.
  • If you order something advertised through a mail solicitation, keep a record of the order, a copy of the advertisement, canceled check, receipt, letters and envelope.
  • If you do not wish to be called by telemarketers, ask that your telephone number be removed from their phone lists.  The Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule gives you the power to stop unwanted telemarketing calls.
  • Deal only with companies or charities whose reputation and integrity are known.
  • Register your phones on the Federal Do-Not-Call List:  (888) 382-1222