North Ogden Police Department often receives calls from residents who have fallen victim to or been contacted by someone attempting to defraud them. These scam artists usually use high-pressure tactics to convince us to go along with their scheme, and frequently use fear as a motivating factor. We are seeing a trend where the caller will stay on the line with the victim while the victim goes to the store to purchase a gift card and provides the caller with the card information. This tactic serves two purposes for the criminal. One, it prevents the call recipient from independently verifying the truthfulness of the caller, and it also keeps the victim “on the hook” so they do not have time to clearly think through the situation. In several recent incidents in Northern Utah, parents received phone calls informing them that their children had been kidnapped and instructing them to withdraw money to provide to the callers in exchange for the safe return of their children. Fortunately, in the most recent cases, the parents were able to confirm that their children were safe and did not lose any money.

Below are a few tips to help reduce the likelihood that you will fall victim to these scams:

Law enforcement will never insist that you pay an unpaid fine over the phone. If you are told that you have an unpaid citation, call the court at the phone number listed on the ticket or independently find a phone number for the court. Do not rely on the phone number the caller gives you. The court will tell you if you have a warrant for your arrest and how to resolve it.

If you miss jury duty, an officer will not call you and threaten to arrest you if you do not pay your fine immediately.

If the I.R.S. has business with you, such as collecting unpaid or back taxes, they will first contact you by mail and not over the phone. They will never require you pay the fine over the phone, and will not tell you to pay using gift cards.

If someone calls you claiming to be a technical support representative, advising you your computer is infected, and offering to repair it, do not give them access to your computer. Once you give these pirates online access to your computer, they can install malware, access your personal data, and lock your computer until you pay a ransom.

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a family member, or an attorney representing a family member, or if you get a call informing you that a family member has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom, hang up and call that family member to confirm their situation.

Finally, if you get a call telling you that you won a lottery or sweepstakes, and are required to pay the taxes and fees before you can receive your prize, you did not win. Lotteries do not ask for your phone number when you buy a ticket and have no way of calling you.

Please be aware that the latest trend in these scams is to keep you on the phone while you go about following their instructions. This is done to keep you from realizing you are being defrauded. They will often instruct you to purchase a gift card and provide them with the card information. Government agencies do not accept gift cards as forms of payment. Don’t fall for their tricks. Hang up.

If you feel you are the victim of a fraud, contact North Ogden Police Department at 801-629-8221.

To report I.R.S. scams, please also contact the U.S. Treasury Department, 800-366-4484.

To report other telephone scams, please also contact the Federal Trade Commission at

www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

To report online fraud, please also contact the F.B.I. Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.