What to know about fraud and how to avoid being a victim

Law enforcement officials in the Southern Tier and around New York State say the following scams are reported periodically.

Here are some common scams and fraud cases, as well as ways law enforcement encourages people to avoid being victimized:

How to avoid “grandparents” scams

Law enforcement officials say a grandparent usually receives a phone call from a “grandchild” who says he has been arrested and needs the money immediately to get out of jail. Money is often requested via Western Union, debit card, gift card, or checking / savings account information. Victims often tell police afterwards that “the person on the phone really looked like my grandson / granddaughter”.

The main red flag comes when the person claiming to be a grandchild asks for money to be sent immediately and then provides details on how to do it. Calls often arrive late at night.

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How to avoid credit card and debt scams

These scams include debt collection, credit card billing, debt settlement and relief, payday loans, credit repair, credit bureaus, and identity theft.

Con artists posing as utilities or financial agencies can call residents to try to steal credit card information, according to law enforcement officials.

Police recommend that you never disclose sensitive financial information over the phone, no matter how convincing a caller may sound. In these cases, scammers usually promise to ease or reduce debt quickly and easily, or may charge an upfront fee, which police say is illegal.

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How to Avoid Home Construction and Renovation Scams

The New York State Attorney General’s office said offenders would often seek clients for home improvement services and then accept payment for not actually doing the job or doing it wrong.

Consumer protection bureaus regularly urge customers to consult customer reviews and the Better Business Bureau pages before paying a contractor to seal their walkways, renovate their bathrooms, or remove ice from their roofs.

The GA’s office recommends homeowners get at least three estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services to be provided for the job. Then insist on a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed.

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How to avoid utility scams

NYSEG has regularly reported utility scams in the South Level that involve a caller ID that could indicate it is from the utility company. In some cases, callers appear to have specific knowledge about the customers they are contacting and may also provide a callback number that responds with a recorded greeting similar to that of the company’s customer service line.

Typically, according to NYSEG officials, the caller informs the customer that a team is about to cut service unless an immediate payment is made. The call can also tell the customer that the utility company has not received a recent payment or has processed a payment incorrectly, so the customer must pay again.

Similar to the “grandparents” scam, the caller can demand that the victim buy a prepaid debit card to make the payment.

Those who are contacted by these types of scams are encouraged to verify all information before making payments over the phone. Payments should not be made over the phone to anyone who has contacted you or asked you to dial a different number, according to NYSEG. It is recommended that the customer use the number on their invoice or on the company website

NYSEG also does not call customers for payment if the account is in good standing.

Advice for victims of scams

The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, following a recent increase in phone scams in the area, has recommended that people set privacy settings on their social media accounts so that only people they know can access publications and personal photos.

The crooks search Facebook, Instagram and other social networks for family information they can use to deceive victims, the sheriff’s office said.

Law enforcement officials also encourage people to ask questions of another person who is unlikely to be able to answer, whenever there is a suspicious phone call, such as the name and species of the animal. company of a family member.

Don’t voluntarily give out information or let a caller push you into a decision, the sheriff’s office said.

Anyone who has ever sent money to a suspected con artist via Western Union is encouraged to call the company’s anti-fraud hotline at 800-448-1492; and for MoneyGram, 800-926-9400. If the transfer has not yet been paid, Western Union or MoneyGram can stop the transaction and issue a refund.

To report suspected fraud or scam to New York State Attorney General’s Office, dial 1-800-771-7755.

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