The Claremore Police Department stands by its mission, “to promote safety, security, and an improved quality of life in and for the City of Claremore.”
One way they do that is by informing citizens about the risks of scams.
Deputy Chief Steve Cox and Officer Brian Burnett offered their advice on how to protect your financial security.
People over 65 are the primary targets of these scams, Cox said, but just about anyone could be targeted for any number of reasons.
“If you’ve ever heard one of these scams, they are pretty darn convincing,” Cox said. “We try to put out a lot of information, and we do it through social media and the news, but a lot of the people we’re targeting are not on Facebook.”
There a few short and sweet rules of thumb that they ask people to remember.
“If it sounds too good to be true, I promise it is.”
“Nobody around here is going to marry the prince or the princess of Arabia or get $5 million for nothing,” Cox said.
Frequent scams that fit into this category are when someone calls to say the recipient won the lottery, but in order to send the winnings they need to receive the taxes first.
Or following large storms, a fly-by-night contractor might offer to fix your property for significantly less than the going rate if you pay up front.
“One of the biggest tip offs is if they ask for money on a prepaid card.”
Cox said that one of the biggest scams currently circulating is to have someone pretending to be the recipients grandson or granddaughter, calling to say that they are in jail and asking for bail money.
“One of the biggest tip offs is instead of cash they are asking for prepaid cards like the kinds you can get at Walmart,” Cox said.
Burnett said that sometimes scammers will do research before they call, rattling off the names of local law enforcement officers and judges to convince people that they’re telling the truth.
“Even if they seem like they know what’s going on and they can name sheriffs and judges doesn’t mean it’s real,” Burnett said.
“We get this all the time,” Cox said. “‘Well, they couldn’t know this about me.’ and we’ll tell them ‘If I google your name right now I’ll know that about you’.”
“There is nothing so pressing that you can’t take a minute to call the police department.”
Burnett said that scammers will often try to convince people that if they hang up the phone they’ll be arrested.
“It’s moved from ‘hey, you won something,’ to scare tactics,” Burnett said. “That’s the biggest thing right now.”
“Our scams typically rotate, and they get a little better each time,” Cox said.
Both Cox and Burnett assured that under no legitimate circumstance in the U.S. would someone ever get a phone call where they would be arrested if they didn’t pay money. IRS arrests are done by uniformed police officers who show up to the perpetrators house and properly identify themselves, and there is typically much more warning than one urgent phone call.
“If you have a question, there is nothing so pressing ... even a legitimate deal is not so pressing that you can’t take a minute, call the police department, and talk to us,” Cox said. “If something doesn’t feel right or sound right on the phone, hang up. Their number one goal is to keep you on the phone so they can get your money.”
Cox said that you can call their non-emergency numbers or come into the police station if you have any questions about a phone call you received.
“Some people are afraid to call, like they’re going to bother us with a dumb question, and that’s never the case. That’s what we’re here for.” Cox said.
Outside of those rules, Cox said that you should note the phone number that comes up, but don’t trust it, because there is technology that exists which spoofs local phone numbers.
Chief Stan Brown added, “Times have changed, technology is evolving, and we’re not seeing as much of the door-to-door cons and scams on our senior citizens. But with the evolving technology, we encourage all citizen, and our senior citizens in particular, that have questions and concerns about someone approaching them trying to gain money or services, make sure to call us, so we can answer your questions.” If you suspect that you’ve fallen victim to a scam, immediately call the police and report it. You can also report it directly to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov. “Once you’ve been scammed the best thing to do is just mitigate the problem going forward,” Cox said. If you believe you may have compromised your bank accounts or credit cards, it’s also necessary to quickly contact those institutions, let them know what happened and institute a freeze on your accounts until you can secure them. Claremore Police Officers also give talks and seminars about these topics at local churches and civic organizations upon request. For peace of mind they’ll also answer any questions you might have about other types of crime in Claremore, give advice for how to protect your home and vehicle and help set up neighborhood watch programs. “This is at the heart of what we do on a daily basis,” Cox said, “giving our citizens safety and security when it comes to their financial and emotional wellbeing.” If your church, club or organization would like to host a meeting with Claremore Police Officers giving more information about how to protect yourself from fraud, you can contact Cox or Burnett by email or phone at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and 918-341-1212.