Scams on the rise, officials say

There are many types of scams that happen to unsuspecting people on a daily basis. Phone scams, identity theft scams, door-to-door scams, mail scams, and more are very commonplace.

Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards says his department has seen an increase in the number of residents who have been victims of scams in recent years, using advancing technology.

“If someone calls you that you don’t know or this person makes you suspicious, hang up the phone,” Edwards said. “Do not continue to talk to them.”

According to Edwards, the main problem with catching the criminals perpetrating the phone scams is that most of the calls are made overseas and that is what makes it hard to trace the caller.

Union Countians have reported incidents in which a stranger will call and tell the person on the other end that they have won a prize and need to go to Western Union and send a specific amount of money so they can claim their prize like a car or a nice vacation. 

Also, Edwards said that Google Earth can be used to tell what street the person lives on, what color the house is, and other descriptions in the neighborhood around the house. That way when the perpetrator calls, the person being scammed is more likely to believe that the caller is local and knows information about them. This is what sometimes scares the victim into giving in to the scam.

Others will call and pretend to be a friend or family member on the phone and ask for money to be wired to a specific account.

“If you get a check in the mail that you don’t recognize, throw it away. Also if you are getting harassing calls, call the police department or the sheriff’s department and report it. And don’t ever wire money to anyone you do not know,” said Edwards.

“Another thing that is really big is people stealing scrap metal. Don’t hesitate to call us if someone is in your yard trying to steal scrap metal. There is a law called the castle law that gives you the right to protect your car, home, or property. If you feel threatened or harmed, you have the right to protect yourself,” said Edwards. “Also, call us if you see a meat salesman. We want to run them in the county. Be leery about who you let into your home. If you don’t know them, don’t let them in. We want to protect you and make you feel safe and protected in your home.”

Another crime is identity theft crime, which is on the rise.Nevertheless, there are ways in which a person can possibly not fall victim to identity thieves.

According to the Mississippi Attorney General’s office, “The ease in which identity theft can be accomplished has made it the fastest growing white-collar crime in the United States today. Identity thieves use your personal information, such as Social Security number, birth date, bank information, credit card number, phone number, or any number of the bits of information, in order to commit fraud or theft.”

Identity thieves can gain access tap your information several different ways, such as stealing a purse or wallet, obtaining information from businesses by stealing from their employer or bribing a dishonest employee who has access to your information, stealing mail, sifting through trash, stealing credit card and debit card numbers through skimming, posing as someone to obtain information, or stealing information while in your home. 

 Once identity thieves get a person’s personal information, they can go on shopping sprees, selling your information to people for profit, and so much more.