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Beware of scams that could mar the new year

By Cathy Locke

clocke@sacbee.com

December 29, 2017 10:10 PM

Sacramento-area residents are advised watch out for scams making the rounds with the arrival of the new year.

The Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force has issued an alert, warning of two scams that have resurfaced and to which people in the area have fallen victim in the past.

One, a text phishing scam, occurred during last year’s New Year’s Eve weekend and was reported again Thursday, according to a task force news release. Customers receive a text message that appears to be from their bank or credit union, advising them to contact their financial institution at the telephone number provided in the text.

Typically, the telephone number sending the text message and the contact number provided either match the customer’s local area code or appear to be a toll-free number, in an effort to trick the recipient into believing the text is legitimate.

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If the number is dialed, an automated voice typically states that there is an issue with the account and prompts the caller to enter information, including their bank card number, expiration date, security code and PIN code. If the information is entered, it eventually is used to illegally withdraw funds from the victim’s account, according to the news release.

Authorities advise anyone who receives such a text message not to dial the number provided. Instead, call the financial institution’s verified telephone number to report the message and check on the account.

Last year’s phishing attacks continued for several months, the news release said, so people should remain vigilant in checking communications regarding financial accounts.

Sacramento-area residents also are again reporting a scam involving callers who identify themselves as Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department employees, providing their name and rank with the department. The callers tell victims that they have a warrant or a grand jury subpoena and provide instructions on how to make a payment to avoid arrest.

The Sheriff’s Department stresses that its Warrants Bureau does not make calls demanding payment to clear a warrant and cautions residents to be wary of any phone call from an unknown source demanding a monetary payment.

Anyone who receives a scam phone call can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission via the commission’s website.

Sacramento County residents who believe they have been the victim of the scam are advised to contact their nearest sheriff’s service center to file a report. A list of service center locations is available online.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy