Due to the high number of scams that we see attempted on community members, the Columbia Police Department would like to remind everyone to stay alert for scammers.
Scams can be sent by email, phone call or text message from a person claiming to be connected with an organization like those shown below:
- With the Social Security Administration, stating that your Social Security number has been used in connection with drug trafficking or other illegal activity,
- A local law enforcement department, telling you that a loved one has been arrested and needs you to send money to bail them out of jail,
- A “police officer” with a local law enforcement department, explaining that you have missed court and must pay a fine immediately or be arrested,
- An “IRS Agent,” stating that you owe back taxes and will be arrested if you do not pay immediately,
- With credit card services, offering a lower or 0% interest rate on some or all of your credit cards,
- Various companies offering to cancel student loans,
- A member of “Geek Squad,” saying there is a problem with your computer and remote access is needed to fix the problem,
- A representative of Microsoft, indicating that you have made a recent purchase and will be charged unless you decide to cancel it by using your bank account or credit card,
- With a local “utility company,” stating that you are past due and service will be shut off if payment is not received immediately.
Columbia Police encourages community members to talk with and share this information with family members and friends. These scams often target the elderly and trusting community members who are not aware.
Taking these precautions can help you avoid being scammed:
- Never give out any personal information. This includes your full name, Social Security number and date of birth.
- Never give out any bank account numbers, credit card numbers, expiration dates or the three-digit CVV number on the back of your credit card.
- Independently verify you are talking to a legitimate employee of the agency or company that contacted you.
- Never click on a link included in an email from an unknown or unsolicited sender. Doing that often installs spyware that will allow the scammer to obtain information stored on your computer.
Community members who receive any communications asking for personal information or money from an unverified requestor should immediately end the conversation and call 3-1-1 to report the incident.
For more information, please visit the FBI and Federal Trade Commission websites.