SCAMS

Almost yearly, a new “scam” emerges that targets the general public. In an effort to assist our Ocean County community, the following is a breakdown of some of the current scams facing our residents. We would like to remind our residents to remain calm, but never wire or send money to strange callers or purchase gift cards and read the numbers to someone over the phone or provide credit card information by phone.

 

The IRS Scam

This scam is common throughout the year, but far more prevalent during tax season — January through April.

How it works:

You will get a phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent, with a caller ID typically indicating an area code from Washington, DC, Maryland, or Virginia.

What they might say:

The caller might tell you that the IRS has filed a tax lien against you, and that your immediate action is necessary or you will be arrested and charged criminally if you do not respond.

What you should do:

Hang up! If you have never been contacted by the IRS before, this might seem legitimate at first but it is really a scam. The IRS has a process that involves notifying you if there really is an issue with your taxes. The IRS will never contact you telephonically and instruct you to wire money or buy gift cards. You cannot pay taxes using a gift card. The IRS will not send the Sheriff’s Department or the local police to arrest you.

If you are concerned and you wish to double check, the IRS files all liens in the County in which you reside. Simply use this website http://sng.ocponj.gov/publicsearch/ and type in your last name or name of your business to determine if there are any Federal Liens Recorded. You may also contact the Ocean County Clerk if you need any help.

The Posting Bail Scam

How it works:

This happens via telephone, often during the middle of the night or early morning. The caller usually targets elderly individuals and claims to have arrested a granddaughter or grandson.

What they might say:

The caller will advise that a relative has been arrested and needs to post bail, and will try to mimic that family member’s voice. The caller will ask for your credit card information over the phone or will ask you to drop off cash at a specific place or go buy a gift card at a gas station or convenience store. The caller will state that if you fail to follow these instructions, your family member will go to jail.

What you should do:

Hang up! There is no more monetary bail in the State of New Jersey. If they are calling from a different state, it is best to wait until morning to check with other family members.

The Real Estate Scam

How it works:

This is usually targeted during the closing on the sale of property by way of email. The email appears to come from the seller’s attorney.

What they might say:

The email asks for a change in manner or method of payment, providing a new account and routing number to wire the full closing proceeds to.

What you should do:

Have a face to face meeting with both the buyer’s and seller’s attorneys. It is possible that their email accounts have been compromised and the new payment information is a hoax. Always be sure to double check via a face to face conversation.

The Email Server Scam

A new email scam has emerged that states your request to remove your account from the server was approved. This is targeting not only Google (Gmail) accounts but also other companies such as AOL and Yahoo.

How it works:

You will get a message via email that looks like it is coming from your email company.

What they might say:

The message body might read:

This is to inform you that your request on (date) (time) to remove your account from gmail.com server has been approved and will initiate in one hour from the exact time that you open this message.

Regards,

Ignore this message to continue with email removal or

if this deactivation was not requested by you.

Please reply to us.

Regards,

Google

What you should do:

Delete the email and do not respond.

The Utility Scam

How it happens:

Often times, you might get a phone call which may be either automated or an actual person.

What they might say:

The caller may tell you that your account is past-due and needs to be paid immediately or your utility will be shut off. The caller may ask for your credit card over the phone, or give you instructions to buy a gift card like a “green dot” card or Amex card at a local gas station or convenience store and read him/her the card number over the phone to pay off your balance.

What you should do:

Hang up! If you are concerned, call your utility company during business hours. If you haven’t previously received a delinquency notice in the mail and have paid your bill, simply hang up. We urge our residents not to give any of their account information over the phone and never purchase a gift card and read it to the caller or provide credit card information over the phone.

The Jury Duty Scam

How it works:

This happens via telephone, where the caller appears to be calling from the Sheriff’s department, claiming that you failed to report for Jury Duty.

What they might say:

The caller will threaten you saying that you failed to report for your scheduled Jury Duty and are subject to fines and jail time. The caller will say that you can pay the fine via credit card or report to the Ocean County Court House to give payment so that a warrant will not be issued for your arrest.

What you should do:

We urge our residents to first and foremost never give your credit card information to pay a fine over the phone. You can call the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department at 732-506-5060 to verify if you were summoned for Jury Duty.

identity theft

If you are the victim of identity theft or fraud, please organize and keep all papers, receipts, cancelled checks, mail from companies, etc., related to this crime.

There are agencies you should contact if you are the victim of identity theft or fraud; some will ask for the report number you get at the end of the police report process:

Equifax
http://www.equifax.com/
1-800-525-6285

Experian
http://www.experian.com/
1-888-397-3742

Trans Union
http://www.transunion.com/
1-800-680-7289

U.S. Federal Trade Commission
http://www.ftc.gov/
1-877-438-4338

Helpful Tips:

  • Protect your social security number and only give it out when required by law.
  • No bank, auction site or other business should send you an email asking you to enter credit card information, passwords, social security numbers or other personal information. Often these fake emails will contain links to pages that look real but are not.
  • Do not give out your personal information or credit card numbers over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Shred credit card offers and bank statements before you throw them away if you do not plan on using them.
  • Do not post your entire life story or that of your children and/or grandchildren online. Posting that your grandchild cut her knee on Tuesday and lost a tooth on Wednesday provides identity thieves with far more information about you than anyone needs to know about you and they use this to their advantage!