Scam Alert: Don’t Fall When Duty Calls

By December 8, 2017 No Comments

What’s a scammer’s favorite holiday? Well, considering how often they like to pretend they’re someone else, we’d guess Halloween. We’ve reported on how scammers like to pose as IRS agents, charities, even your own grandson, but now they’ve got a new trick up their sleeves: scammers are now posing as U.S. Marshals.

According to a new report from the FTC, scammers posing as United States Marshals have been making calls to trick people into sending money. The imposters aren’t just claiming to be Marshals, they’re going as far as stealing names and badge numbers of legitimate law enforcement officers. Scammers will spoof an official-looking number to call, then threaten to arrest or fine people for missing jury duty. Here’s where the scam unravels: they want you to pay the fine with a prepaid debit, iTunes or gift card. Of course, savvy scam-spotters such as yourself know this trick. If you buy a card and tell the scammer the code, they take the value off the card and your money is gone forever.

Here’s the thing. United States Marshals have a lot of duties: protecting federal courts, tracking down fugitives, and transporting prisoners. They don’t have time to make calls about jury duty! If a “U.S. Marshal” calls to threaten you for money, hang up.

If you receive a call like this, make sure to report it to the FTC and your local Marshals Service District Office. The more information that the FTC can get about these bad guys, the more likely they can shut it down. And as always, here are a few ways to protect yourself:

  • Never send money by prepaid card or wire. It’s basically like sending cash – you can’t reverse or trace the transaction.
  • Don’t share any personal or financial information if you don’t know who’s on the other end. The more info scammers have, the better chance they get at stealing your identity.
  • Just because a number LOOKS legit, doesn’t mean it is! Scammers can fake caller ID info, making it much more difficult to discern whether a call is safe.
  • Share these stories with friends and family! The more people are aware of the scams, the easier it is for them to spot them and shut them down.
  • Download PrivacyStar for iPhone or iOS to block known scammers. Our database uses your complaints, along with volume of calls, to determine the bad guys and block them from your phone.