Valley residents may have received fraudulent phone calls in recent weeks—some being cited include false calls to seniors from the County’s Department of Public Health, as well as threats of discontinued MediCal coverage if vital information is not provided. Given the upcoming holidays, residents should also be wary of solicitations for monetary donations. The Big Bear Sheriff’s Station has provided KBHR with some guidelines to protect from unknown callers and solicitations received via mail. These protective measures include the following: Never share 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; 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; deal only with companies or charities whose reputation and integrity are known; discard any solicitation that asks for payment for a “free” gift–if it’s free, or a gift, you shouldn’t have to pay; 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. The Sheriff’s Department also recommends paying particular attention if 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. If you have doubts about the legitimacy of a charitable organization, check with the California Attorney General’s office, Registry of Charitable Trusts at 916/445-2021 or online at ag.ca.gov. Internet scams can be reported to the Internet Fraud Watch Division of the National Consumer’s League Fraud Information Center at fraud.org or 800/876-7060. And, should you wish to do away with telemarketers altogether, you can 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 by registering phone lines on the Federal Do-Not-Call List at 888/382-1222 or online at donotcall.gov.
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