The Rohnert Park Public Safety Department and Senior Advocacy Services of Sonoma County want to warn residents about phone fraud. If you haven’t received a frantic phone call from a seemingly trusted source requesting payment over the phone and threatening an arrest warrant, you may well get such a call in the near future. These tricky types of phone frauds and scams are on the rise. Be aware that scammers are smart and the tactics to lure you into making a payment over the phone are rapidly changing.
Keep ears open for phone calls that claim to represent the IRS, DMV, Sheriff, PG&E, or other utility companies and request immediate payment for missed jury duty or a tax bill. Also, be wary of callers that claim to be your long lost distant relative and pleading for money to get them out of jail. As a general rule, if something sounds suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. Being cautious applies not only to yourself but those around you, especially when tactics get trickier and callers sound more like they represent a trusted brand or person. When these frauds and scams are successful, dollars are lost, as well as trust and self-confidence.
Use the following “five tell-tale signs of a scam” provided by the IRS to help evaluate telephone calls:
Caller demands immediate payment, without having mailed you a bill.
Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
Protect yourself by never giving out financial information, social security numbers, or Medicare numbers over the phone. Be diligent and do your research to make sure callers really represent organizations that they claim to represent. If they’re pushy, stop, take down their number, and call them back. Call the organization back, search the internet for common scams, report fraudulent calls at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov, and protect yourself first. Check out the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office crime prevention webpage to be informed about alerts and tips. Nationally, the AARP Fraud Watch Network map shows local and national scams. No offer too good to be true is worth the risk. A deep breath, a pause, and research are the keys to keeping your information and money safe.
Upcoming dates: The city council is hosting our next Town Hall meeting Tues., March 12 at 6 p.m. at the Community Center. Town Hall meetings are a great way for you to share your opinion on what is happening in Rohnert Park, or to ask questions of councilmembers and staff. Please come and let us know what is on your mind.
The Spreckels Performing Arts Center season opening extravaganza is March 9 at 7 p.m. – it’s free!
“St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland” is debuting with Irish song and dance March 16th at 7 p.m. at Spreckels Performing Arts Center.