CHICAGO, IL – Con artists are now posing as police officers, members of the Sheriff’s Office and even FBI officers. These people call consumers and spoof the caller ID to show a law enforcement office’s phone number. The con artist tells the consumer that he or she must pay a fine in order to avoid criminal charges or must immediately pay money owed by a loan. Like most types of fraud, con artists require payments to be made by a prepaid debit card or money order, not a credit card. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns consumers to avoid making a payment to these people and to call the local police department if they ever receive one of these calls.
“People can often be deceived by callers claiming to be from law enforcement agencies, so don’t fall for their tactics,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Consumers need to be very skeptical of anyone asking them for money or personal information over the phone and the BBB recommends to not doing it.”
Carla, a consumer from Oak Park who didn’t reveal her last name, recently received a collection call. “They kept calling me at work even though I told them not to. They would not give me any written proof of what I owed even though the FTC rules say that they have to. They threatened to call the police and have me arrested. I did make one payment to them before I realized that this was just wrong and they never proved that I owed the money. I filed [a complaint] with the BBB and they eventually stopped.”
The BBB urges consumers to follow these tips when bogus collection calls are received:
- Don’t wire money. The real police department will never ask for money to be wired over the phone.
- Don’t give out personal information. Never give out financial or personal information over the phone.
- Hang up the phone. As much as you may want to keep talking or asking questions to this person over the phone, just hang up. Don’t call this person back again, because that way he or she may be able to track some of your information.
- Contact your local police department. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a law enforcement officer asking for money, look for your local police department’s number on their website and tell them what happened.
For more tips and information about scams, visit www.bbb.org