Sheriff Jay Koon

It happens all the time; you get a phone call claiming to be a business that says you have an unpaid balance. But, instead of asking you to pay in cash, they ask for gift card payment.

Or maybe you got an email from a business that looks legitimate. It could have the name of your utility company; asking you to verify or update your personal information through a website link or phone number. Just because the email may contain ‘insider knowledge’—your name or address or last four digits of your Social Security number—does not mean it isn’t a scam. Scam artists can gain access to sensitive information through the dark web, stolen mail or hacked databases.

Have you ever received a call from ‘tech support’ claiming to be from a well-known company? Maybe they’ve notified you of a supposed virus or malware they’ve detected on your computer. And the only way for them to fix it is to remotely gain access to your computer or encourage you to buy some sort of software. Do not fall for this. Scammers are looking for ways to coax you into giving them money. Do not ever give out passwords or credit card information to a cold caller.

Spoofing is also a constant form of swindling. Bad guys use fake caller ID information to trick you into thinking they’re a local, trusted person or business. We’ve frequently heard of scammers claiming to be the from sheriff’s department too. Remember, we do not conduct official business over the phone.

If you ever feel pressured by someone calling you or emailing you, asking you for something—that’s a sure sign of a scam.

Remember these to help you stay safe:
• never cash a check for a stranger
• companies typically don’t ask for payment in gift card currency
• don’t ever send money to claim a prize
• always verify charities through the Secretary of State’s website
• jury duty notices will come by mail, not phone
• check that repairmen are licensed (and insured) to do business in your area—it’s always a good idea to have a contract too

Taking precautions and being aware of your surroundings will help stop the cycle of scamming. Visit: consumer.sc.gov for more information.