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Knowing what to do before a scammer calls can save angst ... and money

Can you hear me?

This is the start of a new scam that is on the rise involving phone calls. The caller will ask this question, and when the victim answers “yes” the scammer can then use that single word to commit fraud and identity theft.

This new scam joins the ranks of the numerous phone call scams that have come before it. According to a survey by the website TrueCaller.com, in an average year over 17 million Americans will be the victim of phone fraud. This causes an average of over $8 billion to be lost to scammers each year. Because of the staggering number of people whom phone scams affect, there have been several tips and warning signs made available to the general public.

One of the best resources for this information is found on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website, consumer.ftc.gov. According to the website, “Every year, thousands of people lose money to telephone scams – from a few dollars to their life savings. Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money.”

The FTC’s website proposes the following techniques when it comes to handling fraud involving phone scams:

• Ask who is calling and why. Telemarketers are required to state the name of the business and what service or product they are promoting. If the caller cannot give a straight answer or any answer at all, it is likely a scammer.

• Resist the pressure to hurry. Many scammers will pressure victims into making a purchasing decision.

• Question any fees for a “prize” you may have won. FTC says, “If you have to pay, it’s a purchase – not a prize or a gift.”

• Check the time. Telemarketers are only allowed, by law, to contact you between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. If they are calling outside of this time, they are breaking the law and are most likely scammers.

• Tell the company to not call again, and add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry. If they do call again, they are breaking the law. Add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry or report unwanted calls at donotcall.gov.

With these phone scams affecting people across the nation, including Kingman citizens, the Kingman Police Department has made a few resources available to the public. The Police Department’s goal is to educate locals on how best to prevent these kinds of scams. The KPD says, “Education and being informed are the best defenses against these types of scams.”

KPD’s website, www.cityofkingman.gov/departments/policedepartment, offers visitors a one stop place for information on several variations on phone call scams, as well as a place to report any of these scams. KPD offers information on IRS related scams, identity theft scams, fraud aid and more.

It can be rather difficult to track down and persecute these scammers according to KPD, “Arrest and apprehension of these criminals is very unlikely.” However, this should not deter the public from reporting any possible scam with which they have come in contact. Aside from government websites such as donotcall.gov, victims are welcome to report any suspicious phone calls to KPD by calling them at (928) 753-2191.

Although there has been a definite rise of phone call scams over the past few years, local and national resources have made it easier to combat these scammers. With the help of these resources, you can avoid being the next victim of a phone call scam.