Law enforcement agencies across Washington State have seen a major uptick in phone and text scams from crooks impersonating police officers and/or sheriff’s deputies.
These types of scams will continue to rise as long as victims feel intimidated by the tactics con artists use to steal their money or identity.
But they’re also getting more sophisticated.
The Franklin Public Utilities District (PUD) is the latest utility to report a phone scam targeting customers via text messages. People are getting messages from scammers threatening to discontinue service if a past due balance isn’t paid.
These types of phone/text scams often include a number to call plus the scammers are persistent, demanding, and sound believable by quoting fictitious utility policies and past due amounts.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office began warning Washingtonian last year to watch out for scammers targeting donations to aid Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees. The AG’s Office will undoubtedly receive reports of scammers looking to prey on those wanting to contribute to victims of the Israeli/Hamas conflict that’s escalated in the last week.
Another text scam reported by Washingtonians involves a fake message from the United State Postal Service (USPS) saying a package cannot be delivered due to incomplete address information. People who fall victim to this type of scam not only give away their full name, address and birthday but they give up their social security number as well.
Con artists may also come out of hiding and attempt to scam you in person. The Red Cross warned last month of people among the rubble and ruins of homes burned by the Gray and Oregon Road fire in North Spokane County. They posed as damage assessors to gain access to homes.
IRS Scams, Department of Revenue scams and tech support scams are also on the rise.
So how can you protect yourself?
The easiest answer is to not answer any calls or respond to any texts that are unknown. Many phone service providers offer spam reporting features and call-block services. Spam-filtering services are also found on App and Play Stores.
You can sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry by going here.
If you’ve fallen victim to a scam where the con artist has obtained personal information, reach out to your financial institution and/or credit card company and simply explain the situation to them.
You may want to take a snapshot of the message. USPS asks that you paste the copied message and send to [email protected].
And if you’ve been contacted by someone posing as a police officer and/or sheriff’s investigator, don’t be afraid to reach out to the law enforcement agency that the scammer impersonated.
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Gallery Credit: Rik Mikals