Avoid falling for phone scams

According to Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols, phone scams are on the rise and tracing them is near impossible. ” They use numbers that are false, in other words they appear to be from one particular location but the number is just a front.  You can’t trace it back, and when you take the time to do it, they originate out of the country,” explained Nichols.

The caller says they are from the State Attorney’s Office of Criminal Investigation and that legal charges were being brought against the recipient’s name and social security number.  The caller went on to say that it was extremely urgent that the recipient or their attorney return the call immediately or prosecution would be the next step in the criminal case.

Nichols said the Attorney General’s Office does NOT contact people.. “Their job is to take reports, not generate them.  If they really needed to talk with you, they would send an investigator,” he said.

The Maine Attorney General’s office says one of the more common scams involves an offer to lower credit card interest rates.  An automated phone call will state that the call is coming from a company like “card services” or ” card holder services”.  The caller will report that interest rates on credit cards can be lowered but that a credit card number, social security number or other personal information will be needed.  The Maine Attorney’s office advises to never give out credit card or bank information base on an automated call.

“Don’t be fooled by scammers who contact you and already know your social security number, date of birth or other personal information,” Nichols said.  Even if a phone call appears legitimate, Nichols advises people to hang up and then call a number that is known to be associated with the agency or group rather than the number the caller provides.

Websites and emails that appear very similar to those from legitimate companies ( such as Microsoft)  are also used to con people out of their personal and financial information.