What Are Wyoming Phone Scams?
Wyoming phone scams involve the perpetration of fraudulent activities over the phone. Over time, fraudsters have used the telephone as a scamming instrument to contact unsuspecting persons and attempt to deceive, defraud, and harass them. Phone scammers mostly take up the identities of reputable entities that the targets are familiar with, such as government agencies and legitimate businesses, using phone technology to facilitate their fraudulent schemes. These fraudulent schemes mostly involve stealing money, valuables, or personal financial information that will be used to swindle or implicate the target. Phone scammers communicate with their targets through live calls, pre-recorded robocalls, emails, and text messages. Phone lookup services on mobile applications or websites help subscribers determine a call’s source.
Victims of phone scams or persons who suspect that phone scammers have targeted them can report to the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office online by filing complaints. Victims can also download the consumer complaint form, complete it, and mail it alongside other supporting documents to the:
Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Unit
2320 Capitol Avenue
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Some common phone scams in Wyoming include:
- Government grant scams: This involves a scammer contacting a target informing them about an opportunity to get free money in the form of a government grant. The scammer then requests an upfront fee before the target can obtain the “free government grant.” Note that the government does not contact individuals to award grants that the individual did not apply for. Also, federal grants are usually awarded to specific programs or research projects, not to individuals.
- Charity scams - This involves scammers impersonating reputable charity organizations to deceive people into making donations for a supposed “good cause.”
- Tech support scams: Here, scammers try to gain access to individuals’ PCs or mobile phones by pretending to be reputable computer technicians or employees of legitimate tech companies such as Apple.
- Telemarketing scams: Scammers sometimes claim to be legitimate telemarketers and try to persuade the call recipient to buy a particular item at a ridiculously cheap price. However, the products may be fake or even non-existent.
- Arrest (threaten) scams - Here, the caller claims to be a local law enforcement agent and threatens to arrest the recipient if they do not pay a specified amount of money.
- Business opportunity and investment scams - Here, fraudsters contact individuals, informing them of bogus or non-existent investment and business opportunities that are supposedly lucrative and have no financial risk. Most times, these fraudsters make the targets believe that the offers are only available for only a short period and need an immediate response.
- Social Security Administration phone scams - This involves scammers impersonating Social Security Administration employees. These scammers call individuals, telling them that their social security numbers have been suspended because of suspicious activities such as their social security numbers being involved in a crime. They will then request that the target confirms their social security numbers to reactivate it.
What Are IRS Scams?
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scams involve scammers posing as the IRS representatives and contacting individuals claiming that they owe taxes and must pay up immediately. The caller mostly threatens the recipient with arrest, driver’s license revocation, deportation, or lawsuit. These scammers often use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers to make the call appear more genuine. However, they end up requesting that the target makes payment on a credit card or via prepaid gift cards, such as an iTunes gift card or money wire transfer.
Note that these scammers may have access to certain information about you, such as your name, address, or even the last four digits of your social security number. Hence, it becomes easier to appear like a genuine IRS representative. They may also use caller ID spoofing to alter the name and number that appears on the target’s caller ID.
Know that the IRS will never call to demand immediate tax payment over the phone. Instead, you will receive notification in writing if there are any issues with your tax filing. Also, the IRS never requires you to use a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card or iTunes gift card.
Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 for any tax-related issues and work out a resolution. IRS workers can also assist you with a payment issue. Report IRS scam incident calls to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) or at 1-800-366-4484.
What Are Family Emergency Scams (Grandparent Scams)?
Fraudsters target elderly Wyomingites and falsely identify themselves as grandchildren of the targets, claiming to be in trouble requiring money to be resolved such as to post bail, hospital bills, or to purchase a plane ticket home. They then tell the target to quickly wire money to get them out of the “alleged trouble.” These fraudsters may claim that they were traveling in a foreign country where they got arrested, robbed, or involved in a car accident. If the grandparent asks why the caller’s voice sounds different they may give the excuse of a broken nose or a cold.
Furthermore, the scammers may hand the phone over to a second person who claims to be a police officer, lawyer, or bail bondsman during the scam call. The second person will then play along with the charade and pressure the grandparent to send the money.
Never give in to such calls no matter how pressured you are to act quickly; instead, verify the caller’s identity by asking questions that only the actual person can answer. You may also contact your grandchild or another family member to confirm the story before taking any action. Do not wire money, send prepaid gift cards, or provide credit card information based on a request made over the phone or email.
What Are Lottery/Prize/Sweepstakes Scams?
A lottery or prize scam involves a scammer contacting a person claiming to be from a legitimate lottery or sweepstakes organization. The scammer informs the recipient that they have won a prize, and to collect their “winnings,” the recipient must first send money to them to pay taxes and other clearance fees. They usually claim that the recipient’s money will be refunded after they collect their prize. In most cases, the scammer will request that the target makes payment via wire transfer, a prepaid gift card, or other means that makes it difficult for authorities to trace.
Note that legitimate sweepstakes are by chance and are obtained free. It is illegal to ask a person to pay to enter or increase their chance of winning. Also, lotteries of foreign countries are illegal in the United States, which implies that no legitimate foreign lottery sells tickets in the United States. Hence being contacted by a lottery claiming to be from the government of another country is a clear indication of a scam.
You can also verify a suspicious lottery or sweepstakes organization online by searching for the company or product online using a search engine and adding the term “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.”
What Are Jury Duty Scams
These scams usually start with a caller identifying himself as a court official or law enforcement officer. The scammer claims that the recipient has failed to report for jury duty and is now being fined, or a warrant has been issued for their arrest. The caller will then ask for financial payment or request that the target provides personal information, such as their name, address, date of birth, and social security number – for “verification purposes.” Immediately hang up the phone if you receive this type of call.
Note that court officials never ask for any sort of personal information over the phone. Messages from courts and prospective jurors are mostly sent through the U.S. mail and not with a phone call or text message.
How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?
- Investigate and identify unknown callers by searching the phone numbers using reverse phone lookup services.
- Be informed that legitimate organizations, such as banks and utility companies, never request a client’s personal and financial information over the phone. Hence, do not disclose any personal and financial information to a caller over the phone.
- Do not solely rely on the information gotten from the caller ID. Scammers sometimes use caller ID spoofing to impersonate close contacts of their targets or reputable organizations. Use a phone lookup service to verify the caller’s true ID.
- Register on Wyoming Do Not Call List online with the DMA Telephone Preference Service or the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce unsolicited calls.
- Do not accept offers over the phone before doing in-depth research on the offer, no matter how legit the offer sounds.
- Terminate the call if the caller hesitates to reveal their identity and give a detailed introduction of themselves.
- Do not connect to free unprotected Wi-Fi in public places. Scammers may use this to access users’ personal information.
- Avoid answering robocalls, and if you mistakenly answer them, end the calls as quickly as possible and do not follow the directives given during the calls.