By Chief Don Hutson
The Riverton Police Department has received several complaints recently from citizens who have been victimized by “phone scammers” and have had their identities potentially compromised, or even been bilked out of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, Utah has historically been a very popular state for these types of crimes and many of the residents of Riverton fit the perfect demographic profile to be targeted.
I could spend a lot of time trying to describe all the different “scams” which have been perpetrated, but I prefer to provide some tips which will work to protect you from most of the schemes. The common thread among all of these “phone scams” is the attempt by the caller to steal your money or steal your identity. They do this through scare tactics, false grandiose claims, or deceit. They may claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service, the local police department, or even the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They may even claim to be a distant relative. No matter what story they concoct, their ultimate goal is to gain access to your information, your bank accounts, your computer, or have you send them money directly.
The best advice I can give to anyone to avoid being victimized by these unscrupulous criminals is to NEVER provide anyone with any personal information or financial information over the telephone. If you have any thought there may be some legitimacy to the phone call, tell the caller you will not conduct business by telephone and to send you information in writing, but don’t give them your address. They should have it if they are a legitimate vendor and don’t be afraid to hang up on a caller you don’t trust. Any reputable company or organization will have mechanisms in place to verify their legitimacy if it is necessary for them to conduct business on the telephone. Don’t always trust caller identification because there are a variety of ways to misrepresent where the call is actually originating.Finally, please feel free to call the Riverton Police Department whenever you receive a call you believe may be suspicious and we will help you to determine its validity but do this before giving any information. The more difficult we make it for these types of criminal enterprises, the less likely we will be targeted in the future.