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 www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or by calling (888) 382-1222.
-- Bay City News Service