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Police Department

Posted on: July 6, 2017

SCAM ALERT

As part of a recent telephone scam the Watertown Police Department's phone number has been "spoofed" in order to have the intended target answer the call.

On July 6, 2017 we received a report from a Watertown resident who received this phone scam.  Caller ID showed the number of 605-882-6210 -- WPD's phone number. The caller told the man he was part of a lawsuit and that he needed to meet at the Watertown Police Department at a set time or call a different telephone number which would allow him to clear this lawsuit up. The victim of this call promptly hung up the telephone and contacted the Watertown Police Department to check the legitimacy of the caller.

The Watertown Police Department would like to let our residents know phone scams are very common and becoming more sophisticated, often utilizing apps to change caller ID information and locations. These scam callers will make various claims such as a family member is in jail and they need money for bond, the caller may pose as an agent with the IRS or you may have won a trip or lottery prize. These are just a few examples of scams but there are many others out there.

These scams often involve requests for money transfers or gift card payments because it is more difficult to track. Be wary of anyone pressuring or threatening you for payment over the phone.  Watertown Police Officers will never request money directly from you. If you question the identity of an officer you are interacting with, you should call dispatch at 605-882-6210.

The Watertown Police Department would like to offer these tips from the Federal Trade
Commission on recognizing scams:

1. Spot imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.

2. Do online searches. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your
situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.

3. Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID
information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.

4. Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.

5. Consider how you pay. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some
payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or
MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit or Vanilla. Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.

6. Talk to someone. Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.

7. Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus.  Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.

8. Be skeptical about free trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.

9. Don’t deposit a check and wire money back. If you are sent a check as part of a business proposition, scammers will often tell you to keep some for yourself, and wire some of the money back to them. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.

Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams. Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox. If you spot a scam, report it at ftc.gov/complaint. Your reports help the FTC and other law enforcement investigate scams and bring crooks to justice.
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