Since Feb. 4, several Sierra Vista residents have received phone calls from persons claiming to be from a payday loan company threatening the residents that if they did not pay on a delinquent loan, a warrant would be issued for their arrest.
Unfortunately, one resident who feared jail time, fell victim to the scam and sent over $1,400 to pay off the loan. The scam artist instructed the victim to get a prepaid Visa card and put the money on the card. The victim then gave the card number to the scam artist. Once the card number was given, the victim’s money was gone and there was no way to trace it.
According to the F.B.I., the scam artists have accurate data about victims, including Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, employer information, bank account numbers, and the names and telephone numbers of relatives and friends. How the scam artists obtained the personal information varies, but in some cases victims have reported they completed online applications for other loans or credit cards before the calls started.
Those who receive these calls should not follow the caller’s instructions. Rather, people should: notify their banking institutions; contact the three major credit bureaus and request an alert be put on their file; contact local law enforcement agencies if they feel they are in immediate danger; and file a complaint at www.IC3.gov.
Avoid becoming a victim of this scam.
Never give a social security number or personal information of any kind over the telephone or online unless you initiate the contact.
Be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for personal financial information. The email may include upsetting or exciting but false statements to get people to react immediately.
Avoid filling out forms in email messages that request personal information.
Ensure browsers are up-to-date and security patches have been applied.
Check bank, credit, and debit card statements regularly to ensure there are no unauthorized transactions. If anything looks suspicious, contact your bank and all card issuers.
When contacting companies, use numbers provided on the back of the cards or statements.
For more information, call the Sierra Vista Police Department, 452.7500.