AUTHORITIES WARNING RESIDENTS OF PHONE SCAMS

There’s a con artist calling Northport residents selling insurance through a phone number shown as coming from the Northport Police Department.

Northport Police Assistant Chief Keith Carpenter said police don’t randomly call residents, and they definitely don’t try and sell those residents insurance.

In Tuscaloosa County, residents are getting similar calls claiming they’re with the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay up.

The usual claim is that you’ve missed jury duty or a court date, and the callers are posing as Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputies.

Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy said that’s not how they handle jury duty or court dates at all.

“The Sheriff’s Office will never call you and ask you to send funds,” Abernathy said. “And we sure won’t call and ask for you to go to a store and get a cash card to turn in. This is an ongoing trend we’ve seen for years.”

Some tips for dealing with cold calls over the phone:

  • Never give out personal information (age, birthdate, credit card/social security numbers) to someone who calls you out of the blue.
  • If someone says they’re with your bank or credit card, tell them you’ll call back, then call the customer service number found on your paper documentation or on their company’s website.
  • If someone says they’re with the police/the IRS/debt collectors and they need you to pay via a gift card, you can be sure it’s a scam.
    • The IRS will never call you for tax issues. Instead, they send mail.
    • Debt collectors must prove the debt is legitimate, and that information is sent via mail.
    • Police don’t settle warrants or summons over the phone.
  • If you didn’t enter a contest, you haven’t won anything. And if you do win something, you won’t have to give out your credit card information for fees.
  • Microsoft won’t call you for virus scans or computer repairs.
  • Security systems aren’t free, nor is home installation.
  • If it sounds weird, just hang up.

If you think you may have gotten a scam call, please contact the Federal Trade Commission and file a complaint. You can do so right here.

If you believe you’ve been victimized by a scammer, contact the Alabama Office of the Attorney General.

For more information about spotting phone scams, visit consumer.ftc.gov.

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