With tax season coming to an end and spring storm season beginning, it’s that time of year that numerous scams abound.
The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous calls from concerned citizens regarding recent scams and urges the community to be aware of the scams that have been observed in the county, according to the sheriff.
“It’s that time of year. Tax season is upon us,” Sheriff Jeff Johnson said. “People are going to have extra money and when there’s extra money there’s extra opportunity.”
Calls and emails from scammers posing as the IRS are common this time of year, as well as scams offering low cost filing and preparation, but Johnson said to be wary and to use a legitimate preparer or service.
Scammers offering unsolicited sales are popular according to the sheriff.
Johnson said that red flags include the caller pressuring you to commit and demanding payment before a sale or service is completed.
Unsolicited sales are not just limited to telephone calls. With spring storm season approaching, some scammers proposing roof, home and pavement repairs will go door to door with the promise of low cost services but require upfront payment.
“In this day and age where the economy is better, where people are working and are working regularly this is not something that most legitimate businesses are going to be out doing, knocking on doors seeking business,” Johnson said.
To avoid a potential scam, Johnson advises that citizens be cautious, do research and look for verification and references.
“Just as bad guys do homework on their victims, I encourage our folks to do homework on whoever, whatever service they’re presenting to do,” Johnson said.
Unfortunately the sheriff’s office isn’t impervious to scams as well, with scammers impersonating the office demanding money for a loved one in jail in need of money for bond or an attorney, or calling with the threat of a warrant service or arrest.
Johnson said that the sheriff’s office would never call demanding money and if a citizen receives a suspicious call from someone posing as a law enforcement officer to immediately hang up. With any uncertainty when receiving suspicious calls, Johnson said he urges the public to call the sheriff’s office.
“There’s a natural hesitancy to call us but that’s what we’re here for,” Johnson said. “I’d much rather help them save their money instead of trying to work the crime on the other end of it. When that money hits the mail system it’s kind of hard to get back, if not impossible to get back.”
Online scams continue to be an issue, with spoof emails exhibiting red flags such as demanding sensitive information like passwords, user names, social security numbers and personal identify. Johnson said the best way to protect from internet scams is to protect your user name and passwords for online accounts and to not respond to emails requesting a change in your sensitive information.
“Scams most often target an individual’s emotion or desire, such as helping a loved one in need or the allure of wealth and riches,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, criminals know that reason and logic often take a back seat to feelings.”
Johnson said that scammers frequently seek those who they believe to be most vulnerable, often senior citizens, who are perceived by scammers as having a nest egg, being more susceptible to emotional manipulation or having diminished mental awareness.
For additional information on current scams and how to avoid them, Johnson said he recommends scamawareness.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating Americans about scams.
“We continue to stress to our community, if it doesn’t seem right it probably isn’t. When in doubt or suspicious, please call us,” he said.
For more information, or to report scamming, call the sheriff’s office at (706) 344-3535.