Law enforcement warns beware of phone, email scams

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The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and the Williamston Police Department are advising residents and businesses to be aware of a variety of scams that are circulating in the area involving phone calls or emails. Several people throughout Anderson County have received emails in reference to the “Bureau of Defaulters” According to Williamston Police Captain Kevin Marsee, “There is no such thing.”

There is no Bureau of Defaulters according to Amy Hebert, a Consumer Education Specialist with the FTC.

The email says it is a court notice from the Bureau of Defaulters Agency-FTC with your arrest warrant record attached. It says you’ve ignored their efforts to contact you, so now your Social Security number is on hold by the federal government, you’ll be prosecuted for fraud, and you’ll owe all kinds of money when you’re found guilty. You’ve got just 24 hours to respond.

Hebert says, “It’s not true.There is no Bureau of Defaulters, and the FTC doesn’t send emails like this to people. Read Government Imposter Scams to learn more about spotting imposters.”

If you get an email like this, forward it to spam@uce.gov, then delete it. Don’t click on any attachments or links. Scammers send convincing-looking fake emails with links or attachments they want you to click. When you do, you could download malware onto your computer. If you’re not sure whether an email is real, you can always look up a phone number yourself and contact the court, company, or agency the email claims to be from.

What if you already clicked on the attachment? Follow these steps to get rid of malware. You also can file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint, then visit the FTC’s Identity Theft website. Victims of phishing emails like this could become victims of identity theft, and there are steps you can take to minimize your risk.

The FTC has scam alerts you can sign up for to find out about the latest scams. Go to consumer.ftc.gov and click on Scam Alerts, which include a category for imposter scams like these.

Businesses warned about Power Scam

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office warns local business owners to be on the alert for potential scam artists.

During February, the Sheriff’s Office received reports from two businesses who were contacted by individuals claiming to be power company representatives. In both cases, the caller threatened to turn off the business’ power if “past due” payments were not immediately received.

The callers indicated that they would only accept prepaid money cards, such as Reload-it or Green Dot; however, local utility companies have indicated that they will not call a consumer to collect a late payment, but will mail notices before disconnecting service.

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs warns that a phone’s Caller ID can be spoofed. Just because the caller’s phone number looks legitimate, does not mean that it is.

Per Sheriff Skipper, “Scammers are looking for quick, easy cash, and they love the idea of pre-paid cards. If a company contacts you and requires payment to be made using one of these cards, hang up (!) and contact the company directly to inquire about the situation.”

If you believe you have been the victim of a fraud, contact your local law enforcement agency.

You can also contact your local consumer protection officials at www.consumer.sc.gov and/or file a complaint with the National Fraud Information Center at www.fraud.org. Your complaint may help others and will be useful to law enforcement in stopping the scams.