Police advise not to give information over the phone
Sequim Gazette staff
Sequim resident Barb Lyons said she received a phone call from a scammer posing as Royal Caribbean Cruises on the afternoon of Tuesday, Sept. 20.
Lyons answered the call, which was from a blocked number with an automated machine asking five questions about the economy. After she answered the question on the dial pad, a telemarketer said Lyons had won a free cruise. The catch — she needed a debit card number to process the prize.
Lyons declined and later called the cruise line to see if she had lost out on the prize. A representative told her they don’t conduct prize drawings that way.
She also called the Washington State Attorney General’s office and a spokesman said prize contests usually are conducted via e-mail and shouldn’t ask for money or credit card numbers.
Lt. Sheri Crain with Sequim Police Department said scams come in all sorts of variations and themes, often trying to sell products or asking for money up front.
“It’s hard if not impossible for us to address each one individually,” Crain said.
“People should not go into things blindly and not divulge information or give out information over the phone.”
The Sequim Police Department offers the following tips on how to spot a scam:
• Don’t give private information over the phone or Internet unless you initiated the contact. Note: It is illegal for telemarketers to request that information to verify a prize or gift.
• Look closely at offers that come through e-mail or in the mail.
• Be wary of mail or e-mails promising “free” vacations, foreign lotteries, cashier check scams, work at home offers or schemes that ask for your money up front.
• Beware of cheap home repair work that otherwise would be expensive.
• Most importantly, if you receive an offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is a scam or a con.
Scams and cons also can lead to your identity being taken and used to open false accounts in your name, causing extensive damage to your credit score and months of clearing your name once the problem is detected.
If you are a victim of identity theft:
• File a police report
• Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, 800-525-6285; Experian, 888-397-3742; and TransUnion, 800-680-7289) to place a fraud alert on your accounts.
• File a complaint at www.fraud.org and www.consumer.gov/sentinel/.
• If the crime occurred using the Internet, file a complaint at www.ic3.gov.
You are entitled to one free credit report a year, regardless of whether you are a victim of fraud or not; you can request the report from www.annualcreditreport.com or 877-322-8228. Reach the Sequim Police Department at 683-7227.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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