Watch out for Caller ID Scams and Missing Mail

By Lynn Lewis - lynnl@landings.org
Communications Manager

Scam calls are on the rise, and some are taking place in The Landings. Recently, a Landings resident reported receiving a phone call appearing to come from The Landings Association that included a recorded message asking if she would like to eliminate her debt. Baffled by the fact that she was receiving this call and had no debt, and even more confused that such a call would be coming from The Landings Association, the resident immediately hung up. A few days later, she received the same call, but this time it came from a neighbor’s phone number.

The scam artists, in this case, are using a method known as spoofing. Spoofing occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. According to the Federal Communications Commission’s website, anyone who is illegally spoofing canface penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation and jail time.

Some callers are contacting victims to claim they owe fines for not appearing in court or that a family member owes a delinquent debt. Each year, Landings Security receives reports about a number of phone and email scams, and this year appears to be trending in the same direction. The details of the scam may differ, but the intent to manipulate, mislead, and defraud is constant.

According to Chatham County Police Department (CCPD) officials, their office has received reports from Landings residents who suddenly stopped receiving mail. When they checked with the post office, they learned that a change of address form had been filed in their name and their mail was being routed to an address in the Atlanta/Douglasville area.

Police officials say this is becoming another popular scam because you don’t have to show identification to have your address changed. All you need to do is contact the  post office. In one instance reported to CCPD, a credit card had been opened in the victim’s husband’s name. If you do not receive mail for a day or two, contact the post office immediately, and never throw away information that has your date of birth, Social Security number, or other personal information on it. Be certain to shred these documents.  

You also can sign up for a service by the post office called “Informed Delivery”. This allows you to receive an emailed scan of the outside of your mail that is scheduled for delivery. Go to informeddelivery.usps.com to sign up. 

Keep in mind, the victims who fall prey to these crimes are not intellectually challenged.
Rather, the criminals are very good at what they do, and they will do their best to trick or intimidate the victim into sending money, or in the case of the mail fraud, simply steal information that includes what they need to open credit cards. Other scammers claim a family member is hurt or in trouble and needs funds immediately. The scam artists do their research to appear as legitimate as possible. In several cases, the caller reportedly knew the name of a grandchild and the city where they live.   In short, these criminals are smart, possibly prepared with specific knowledge about you, and are very convincing. This means that you, too, must be prepared. Following are a few warning signs and tips to help ensure you don’t fall prey to scammers.

Red flags the person on the other end of the phone may be involved in a scam:

  • Seeks payment on a debt for a loan you do not recognize
  • Refuses to provide a mailing address or phone number
  • Asks for personal, financial, or sensitive information
  • Exerts high pressure to try to scare you into paying, such as threatening to have you arrested or to report you to a law enforcement agency

If you think that a caller, or in some instances an emailer, may be a fake debt collector or scam artist, you should do the following:

  • Ask for a name, company, street address, and telephone number.
  • Stop speaking with the caller.
  • Never provide personal information, such as credit card, bank details, Social Security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc. to an unsolicited caller.
  • Contact your creditor, if you have a debt.
  • Do not go to a website, type anything into a computer, install software, or follow any other instruction from someone who calls out of the blue.
  • Do not open unrecognized email or download software or links from an unknown site or user.
  • Law Enforcement and Federal Agencies (including the IRS) will never attempt to collect a debt or fine over the phone.

Scams are a multibillion-dollar industry, and tracking down criminals can be extremely difficult, as several of the companies are located overseas. If you believe you received a call from a scammer, please report it to one of the following:

  • Internet Fraud should be reported to the FBI via their website (www.IC3.gov).
  • Report Telemarketing Fraud to the Governor’s Consumer Protection Office (404-651-8600).
  • Report Identity Theft to the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Office (877-438-4338).
  • In all cases, contact Chatham County Police Department (912-652-6920).