The Ventura Police Department warning residents Tuesday about a rise in phone scams in the past three months.
Community members have reported being pressured to make payments by phone through threats of power shut offs, cellular service termination and jail time, the department said in a news release.
“The community is urged to be vigilant in protecting personal information and aware of these scams to avoid falling victim,” Sgt. Edward Caliento said in a written statement. “Never follow directions from someone over the phone that requests immediate payment, ‘or else.'”
Since June 2020, reported scams increased by 60% in comparison to the previous four months, according to the department. Of 168 reported calls, 35 resulted in financial loss.
Most of the reported incidents involved a scammer trying to scare a resident into sending cash, credit card information, or bank account numbers over the phone, officials said.
Residents were advised to be aware of other frequent phone scams, including calls from people claiming to be from the IRS, gas and electric company, social security office or Medicare. The department also warned of text messaging phishing and QR code-related scams.
Police said older residents are particularly targeted with the “Grandparent Scam,” in which the victim receives a call from an individual posing as their grandchild and claiming to be in jail and in need of money for bail, or in the hospital.
To reduce the risk of becoming a victim of such phone scams, the department suggests the following crime prevention tips:
- Sign-up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams.
- Spot imposters: Scammers often pretend to be government officials or family members. Always ask for identification or ask questions to verify who they are.
- Verify an agency by researching online searches.
- Don’t trust caller ID.
- Don’t pay upfront for anything.
- Consider the type of payment used for transactions. Most credit cards have significant fraud protection built-in and are safer to use.
- Talk to someone. Scammers want the public to make decisions in a hurry and often threaten people to make hasty decisions. Slow down, check the story and consult an expert – or just tell a friend.
- Hang up on robocalls.
- Be skeptical about free trial offers.
- Don’t deposit a check and wire money.
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam and have suffered financial loss, contact the Ventura Police Department at 805-339-4400. For all other scam-related calls, report them to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357 (1-877-FTC-HELP) or visit ftc.gov/complaint.