Phone scams are avoidable

Published 10:11 am Friday, July 9, 2010

The phone rings in the middle of the night. Still groggy, you answer the phone, a call you are told is coming from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.

A family member has gotten himself or herself in trouble, the caller says. They need you to come to the police station right away.

For most people, this would be a scary situation.

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Now consider that the individual on the telephone doesn’t work for law enforcement, no family members are in jail and the caller’s motives for wanting you out of the house are unknown.

That is exactly what happened earlier this week when several families got calls like this. Now Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless waits for answers.

No one knows if this was simply a prank call from some youth or if it was something more dangerous.

Prank phone calls were a common occurrence for many people in the 1980s but the advent of caller ID basically eliminated this problems.

Many times, phone messages are veiled solicitation efforts or downright scams. According to the FBI, here are some helpful tips to keep you from getting scammed:

Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses understand that you want more information about their company and are happy to comply.

Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. If you get brochures about costly investments, ask someone whose financial advice you trust to review them.

Always check out unfamiliar companies with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state Attorney General, the National Fraud Information Center, or other watchdog groups. Unfortunately, not all bad businesses can be identified through these organizations.

Following these guidelines and using common sense can help ensure that you aren’t the one calling the sheriff’s office.