Please Don’t Be the Victim of a Scam
SCMPD wants to help you make sure you do not become the victim of a SCAM. The SCMPD Financial Crimes Investigation Unit will feature information on this page about common scams and how you can avoid falling victim to them.
Bullet-proof Vest Scam
The Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department wants to warn the public about a new telephone scam targeting citizens of Savannah and Chatham County.
The scammers have reportedly used an app to disguise their phone number. Through the app, caller ID displays the phone number to an SCMPD Precinct rather than the scammer’s actual number. Once on the line, the scammer proceeds to solicit money on behalf of the department. The most recent scam asks citizens to help purchase bullet-proof vests for SCMPD officers.
As a reminder, police officers will never call your home asking for any sort of financial donation.
- Do not trust unsolicited phone calls
- Do not provide personal information to unknown persons over the phone
- Never provide credit card or other financial information to callers
If you discover you are the target or victim of a scam, report it to police and the Federal Trade Commission.
IRS Phone Scam
The Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department’s Financial Crime Unit wants to warns citizens of an IRS scam that has surfaced locally.
In recent weeks, Financial Crimes has gotten tips from several citizens receiving automated phone calls with pre-recorded messages directing the victims to call a given phone number to make payment to the IRS. Once they call, the victims are then connected with a scammer who insists the victim owes money to the IRS. The scammer demands payment over the phone and if the victim does not comply, the scammer threatens to call police.
Detectives warn that if you receive a phone call of this nature, hang up the phone and do not send any money. If you believe you may owe money to the IRS, contact them directly at 800-829-1040.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, has received reports of about 736,000 scam contacts since October 2013. Nearly 4,550 victims have collectively paid over $23 million as a result of the scam.
As a reminder, the IRS will not:
- Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
- Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
- Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
For more information, refer to the IRS website at www.irs.gov.
Crime Prevention Tips for Buying and Selling Items Online
SCMPD urges citizens to make safety the highest priority when buying and selling goods advertised online. The public is reminded of the following safety tips:
- Utilize local police precincts as meeting places.
- Avoid meeting to buy or sell items alone.
- Always advise a friend or loved one of your plans to buy or sell items.
- Arrive early and position yourself to observe and evaluate your surroundings and individuals you are scheduled to meet. If something makes you uneasy, leave immediately.
- Buyers and sellers always should meet in public highly populated places during daylight or business hours.
- Always take a working cellular phone to alert police of emergencies.
- Never invite strangers into your home and avoid entering their residences.
- Avoid posting personal information online.
- Have several adults present when selling heavy items that are difficult to remove from your home.
- Keep valuables out of view.
- Be leery of purchasers attempting to use cashier’s check from out-of-state or outside of the country. These may be counterfeit.
Anyone aware of local crimes linked to buying and selling goods advertised online should call Crimestoppers at (912) 234-2020 or text CRIMES (274637) using the keyword CSTOP2020. Tipsters remain anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward.
Tech Support Scam
Scammers will call victims by telephone and claim to be with Windows or Microsoft tech support. Scammers will often obtain victim’s personal information from publicly available online directories. Scammers will guess the victim’s operating systems, which allows the scammers to gain the victim’s trust. Scammers will get the victim to provide credit card information or other personal and financial information. Scammers will talk the victim into downloading various malware or even legitimate software which allows the scammer to take control of the victim’s computer. Scammers can then access victim’s personal/financial information from the victim’s computer.
If you receive an unsolicited call, do not purchase any software or services. If there is a fee or subscription required, you should hang up. You should never give up control of your computer to someone unless it is a company you can verify that you were previously doing business with prior to the call. If you do fall victim to this scam, you should change your passwords immediately and scan your computer for viruses or other malware.
In some cases, legitimate calls are made. However, Microsoft states that these calls can be verified and no one will ask for money or credit card information.
You should report the scam to your local police agency and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (a link is at the bottom of this page).
Important Notes: Do not trust unsolicited phone calls
Do not provide personal information
Do not provide credit card or other financial information
Home Rental Scams
Scammers will post a home for rent on various legitimate websites. The rental is often times hijacked from another website listing the location for rent. The scammers will list actual pictures and details copied from an actual home. However, the scammers will change the contact information.
You should look out for the following as possible signs the rental is a scam:
- The home will be listed for less than it would reasonably go for compared to other rentals in the same area.
- The scammers often want you to send wire transfers or prepaid credit card information. In most instances, this is prior to you ever seeing the location in person or even speaking to the scammer via telephone.
- The scammers commonly list only an email address as the sole point of contact.
- The scammers claim they are out of the country or have some emergency that requires the quick rental without meeting you.
- You should look up the address and renter’s information on the internet prior to sending any funds. In some cases, you may discover the scammer has been at this for a while and information has been posted on the internet.
If you discover you are the target of a scam, please report it to your local police agency as well as to the Federal Trade Commission (Click the image below to go to the FTC’s Online Complaint Reporting.)