VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A detective with the Economic Crimes Unit within the Virginia Beach Police Department says there is a wide variety of scams happening right now. He’s offering tips to help the public avoid being scammed.
It may seem surprising, but one involves what callers want you to believe is the police department.
“'You owe the Virginia Beach Police money. You have a warrant for your arrest. Go get a gift card and we’ll take care of it,'” described Detective John Scamordella. “The United States government will absolutely, 100%, not take gift cards as payment.”
Recently, some people are reporting getting texts from someone claiming to be their bank. The text says their account being frozen.
Experts advise: Do not click any links, don’t call a number listed in the text, and never give your account number to someone calling you or texting you.
“If you ever get a call from someone who claims to be your bank and you’re not sure, hang up,” Detective Scamordella suggests. “If it’s legitimately your bank, you can pick up your card, look on the back, find the number and call the bank and see if there’s a problem.”
He added that you should check your bank account every couple of days to look for any unusual transactions including deposits you weren’t expecting.
Detective Scamordella also says there are many current scams disguised as IRS, unemployment agencies and work-from-home companies.
“We’ve seen an uptick in these work-from-home scams. Because of COVID, there has exponentially been an increase maybe 70 or 80%.”
Regarding online safety, it’s recommended you change your password often.
“Don’t use words. Don’t use common phrases. Don’t use dates to remember,” said Scamordella.
Instead, make sure to use upper case and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.
And those fun quizzes on social media? Be wary.
“Your 'superstar name' is your middle name and the street you grew up on: That’s called phishing,” stated Detective Scamordella. “And while the person you got it from may not really phishing your information, the person that originated it could be.”
When it comes to credit, he feels everyone should check theirs every six months and suggest freezing your credit. He said Equifax, Transunion and Experian offer free services to do this.
Finally, many of these scams can seem legit, so don’t be ashamed to tell someone if you’ve become a victim of fraud.
“The only way we can combat fraud is to spread the knowledge,” Detective Scamordella explained. “Because if I tell you about a scam, you’re not going to fall for it.”