Phone scam takes advantage of tragedy

The Kingman Police Department is reporting a telephone scam apparently involving people trying to take advantage of the recent tragedy at the World Trade Center.

A Kingman resident told police he received a call from a man claiming to be associated with the World Trade Center and asking for financial information.

The caller asked the potential victim for credit card information saying because of the destruction of the World Trade Center Tuesday morning by suspected terrorists, all financial records had been lost, said KPD Cpl.

Tracie McKnight.

Phone scams have surfaced in the Kingman area recently plaguing victims.

Callers have sought financial information from unsuspecting victims, such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers and bank account numbers, in the guise of promising a gift or prize.

McKnight reminds people to never give any caller your bank account number or any information.

They can use it to withdraw your money without your knowledge.

Most telephone scams target the elderly and with Kingman's large retirement community, the area is a prime target for phone scams.

About 80 percent of telemarketing is aimed at senior citizens, McKnight said.

About 14,000 telemarketing groups operate in the country.

Of that, it is estimated about 10 percent of telemarketers are illegal.

Most illegal telemarketers are out-of-state or even out-of-the-country, she said.

Telemarketers can get your information by paying for lists from bankcard companies, magazines and membership organizations, she said.

Many sweepstakes can be ploys to get your name, address or phone number.

If possible, people should check out the organization they are sending money to.

Ask for the name and phone number of the manager.

If they refuse to give it out, hang up, she said.

Some of the things one can do is to ask the telemarketer for the name and address of their company.

Ask the caller to send you written material to look at, including a money back guarantee before you buy something, she added.

Call the Better Business Bureau of the state Attorney General's office or a local consumer protection service in the city or state where the company is located.

Ask for any complaints against that company, McKnight said.

Talk to friends or relatives, a lawyer or a banker for advice before making a large purchase or investment.

Don't pay for a prize or send money to improve your chances to winning a contest.

It is illegal for someone to ask you to pay to enter a contest, she said.

Don't allow a caller to bully or intimidate you into buying something "right now." If a caller says you have to make up your mind now, it's probably a scam.

Hang up if the caller persists after you say no, she said.

KPD also offers classes on telephone fraud usually held at local senior centers.

Report suspicious telemarketing calls, junk mail or advertisements to the National Fraud Information Center at 1-800-875-7060 or call KPD at 753-2191.