County issues alert about phone scams

DA: Several types of scams have been reported recently

Residents are being reminded to beware of phone scammers who have a variety of ways to pressure residents into giving up their money, officials with the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office said.

Prosecutors said several different scams have been reported recently.

A scammer may call saying that the resident has a warrant out for their arrest and offer to negotiate a payment in lieu of arrest.

Or the caller may claim to be a police officer who will be coming over within the hour because there is a problem with the person's Social Security number or Identification number, according to prosecutors.

In each scam, the caller will demand the resident send money, put money on a prepaid card or provide confidential information that the caller can use to steal a person's identity or commit fraud.

Police want to warn residents that the calls may seem legitimate because the callers may know the last four numbers of the resident's Social Security number or other information such as a relative's name, prosecutors said.

The perpetrators many times are able to make it appear on the phone that they are IRS officials, police or sheriff's officials.

Prosecutors said residents should know that IRS agents will contact taxpayers by mail first and they never demand payment by credit card, wire transfer or credit card.

Police or sheriff's deputies will never ask for a payment over the phone or negotiate an arrest warrant for a reduced amount in lieu of arrest.

Residents should be skeptical and ask for details to find out why the caller is calling.

Residents should also verify, for example, whether a family member is traveling and whether they are okay, prosecutors said. Or if the person says they are calling from a government agency, residents should call the agency to see whether the person works there.

Always avoid giving out a Social Security number or any other personal identifying information to an unsolicited caller.

Avoid sending cash by messenger, overnight mail, money transfer or prepaid credit card since sending those forms of money may eliminate any chance of disputing the fraudulent charges.

Prosecutors suggest checking with a loved one or another trusted person before sending money.

Residents should hang up the phone on anyone they believe is a scammer.

Residents can report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at or by calling (888) 382-1222.

-- Bay City News Service

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2 people like this
Posted by Matty
a resident of Danville
on Sep 2, 2016 at 8:31 am

Also be aware that some will call grandparents of older teens or young adults and claim to be the grandson/granddaughter traveling in a different country. But they "sound different" on the phone than normal because they caused a car accident and their mouth/jaw was slightly injured in the crash but they are otherwise OK. They claim to need money wired because the authorities have them in jail pending payment for causing the crash that damaged property. They seem know just enough family history and tree (probably from genealogy sites) to sound almost credible and try to fool amenable grandparents into paying the fine over the phone. Warn your parents/grandparents about this type of scam.

3 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 2, 2016 at 8:46 am

At our house we don't answer the phone if we don't recognize the name of the caller or if the ID is blocked. We have an answering machine that says the caller ID out loud, and if we don't recognize it, it goes to voice mail. If it is important, they will leave a message and we can either pick up or call back. It save a lot of hassle. I'm tempted to change the outgoing message to add "We already have solar." and that will take care of about 50% of the calls. The "No Call List" is a joke.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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