LAKE OSWEGO – As technology continues to improve in leaps and bounds to make our lives easier and more efficient, it also creates opportunities for savvy thieves to take advantage of unsuspecting citizens. One such way is when criminals use an application on a phone or computer to falsify their caller ID information in order to defraud or threaten someone. They often use the phone number and name of a legitimate organization when making these calls, adding to their veracity.
Recently, the police department has noticed this type of incident starting to affect our citizens as well, and we want people to know how to protect themselves from this type of scam. When these types of calls are received, they are often very convincing and sometimes intimidating. They often ask for personal information or account information and, since the caller ID appears to be from a legitimate organization (e.g. financial institution, government organization), the victim does not suspect any foul play. In some cases, the caller even convinces the victim to either send them money or pay them over the phone.
In one such recent case, a resident who has legally immigrated to the United States was targeted by someone purporting to be from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. The caller was able to convince the victim that they needed to send money or the victim would be deported. This was accomplished, in part, because the caller ID showed to be from the USCIS with the correct 800 number for that agency. The call was not legitimate and, ultimately, the victim sent the suspect(s) $13,000.
Citizens are reminded to never give personal or account information over the phone unless you are certain of whom you are talking to. If someone calls you and asks for (or demands) money or personal information, ask for their name and call them back. To be extra careful, look up the number of the business or organization yourself before calling to be sure you are calling the real organization. As always, if you believe you have been the victim of this type of fraud, report it to your local police department as soon as possible.