September 7, 2006

Sheriff Warns Residents To Protect Personal Info

It used to be lightning rods and driveway repairs, but today cyber-crime is the preferred tool for many con artists.

Scotland County Sheriff Wayne Winn reported a pair of scam concerns last week, a number, which he indicated is becoming fairly common as far as citizen complaints are concerned.

Winn indicated one resident informed him of a phone call from a service provider, threatening legal action for an alleged unpaid bill unless the individual provided personal bank information to the caller.

Another resident reported receiving notification as a winner of the Spanish Lottery, requesting personal bank information so that the winning dollar amount could be deposited into the account.

ďThose are just the calls we got last week, and are just a few examples of the way these people are trying their hardest to get your bank information so they can steal your money,Ē Winn stated.

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon recently warned Missourianís to beware of callers posing as bank employees, seeking similar private information.

There are similar scams on e-mail and via regular mail asking individuals to verify bank account and routing numbers. ďGaining a victimís confidence by posing as someone with a known and trusted institution is an age-old trick of con artists,Ē Nixon said. ďAnyone who receives these calls should hang up and report the call right away to the bank and to the Attorney Generalís Office or the local police.Ē

Nixon said keeping your personal and financial information confidential can not only stop thieves from making immediate withdrawals on your accounts, it also can help protect you from identity theft.

ďWe always remind Missourians to not give that kind of information to people you donít know, unless you initiate the call,Ē Nixon said.

Missourians may contact the Attorney Generalís Office through the officeís Web site at www.ago.mo.gov or through the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222.

While the new age crime is on the rise, Nixon warned that the old fashion cons are still out there.

In August Nixon put out warnings in central and western Missouri to be wary of questionable companies going door to door offering asphalt paving, lightning rods and electrical wiring services.

Reports from Cass, Cooper, Jackson, Morgan and Pettis counties indicated that crews were targeting elderly residents, offering cheap driveway repair and telling homeowners their aluminum wiring is a fire hazard and needs to be replaced with copper.

Consumers complained the door-to-door solicitors used high-pressure sales tactics, begin work then demand more money and in some cases collect money and disappear. The Attorney Generalís Office is working with local law enforcement to look into the recent rash of complaints about home repair fraud.

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