DES MOINES, Iowa — Each year, scammers become more advanced in their schemes in how they contact and fool consumers. The Des Moines Police Department used information from the Better Business Bureau and rounded up 10 of the most prevalent scams of 2015.
The scam that made the top of the department’s list is a phone call that threatens an arrest. Des Moines police call it the most terrifying because people pay the scammer out of fear.
“You receive an ominous phone call from someone claiming to be a police officer or government agent (often the IRS). They are coming to arrest you for overdue taxes or for skipping out on jury duty, but you can avoid it by sending them money via a prepaid debit card or wire transfer,” the department says.
Des Moines police say the “Are You Calling Yourself?” scam almost tied for first on their list. Scammers have the technology to make an incoming call look like it’s coming from your own phone number, which often times intrigues the consumer enough to pick up the call.
“Then they’ve snagged you in whatever scam they are running. It was almost a tie for the top spot this year, because BBB sees this one every day,” the department says.
Another common scam this year is the tech support scam.
“You get a call or a pop-up on your computer claiming to be from Microsoft (or Norton, or Apple) about a problem on your computer. They say if you give ‘tech support’ access to your hard drive, they can fix it,” the department says.
Instead, the scammers install malware on your computer in order to steal your personal information.
The Des Moines Police Department has these tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Don’t be pressured into making fast decisions.
- Take time to research the organization. Check them out on bbb.org, search online, etc.
- Never provide your personal information (address, date-of-birth, banking information, ID numbers) to people you do not know.
- Don’t click on links from unsolicited email or text messages.
- If you are unsure about a call or email that claims to be from your bank, utility company, etc., call the business from the number on your bill or the back of your credit card.
- Never send money by wire transfer or prepaid debit card to someone you don’t know or haven’t met in person.
- Never send money for an emergency situation unless you’ve been able to verify the emergency.