Fraud and Scam Prevention

Whether by Internet, phone, text, email, U.S. mail, or in person, scammers work tirelessly to find different ways to attempt to victimize you.  The Sheriff’s Office reminds you to remain vigilant in protecting yourself against scams.  Below are crime prevention tips and questions to ask yourself when confronted with a possible scam.

TIMELESS TIPS:


·  If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
·  Don’t talk to strangers (by Internet, phone, text, email,  U.S. mail, or in person).
·  READ THE FINE PRINT…always.

scam-alert-

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:


·  Who are they?
·  Are they posing as a government agency?
·  Why would they be contacting you?
·  What are they really asking for?
·  Are they asking for personal information?
·  Do you do business with the company contacting you?

SOLICITORS (door-to-door sales):


·  Anyone selling goods or services at your door is required to have a County issued solicitors permit and must display it at  all times. 
·  If you decide to make a purchase, solicitors must provide you with a signed and dated written order or invoice which includes: 1) the name and address of the firm; 2) your signature; 3) terms and conditions of the sale—READ CAREFULLY!!!
·  Soliciting can only occur between 9 a.m. and sunset.
·  Solicitors are not allowed to solicit if you have a “No Soliciting” sign posted on your premises.
·  To learn more about solicitor requirements, click here.  
·  Contact the Sheriff’s Office at 365-6110 if a solicitor is not complying with these requirements.

LOTTERY/SWEEPSTAKE SCAMS


Lottery scams begin when you are notified that you have won the million dollar lottery, but you have to pay a fee by a pre-paid reloadable card (the scammer usually specifies a Green Dot card) to obtain your winnings. 
·  If you receive such a phone call, letter, or email, hang up, delete the email or shred the letter.  It is a scam!  
·  First, ask yourself if you played that lottery. If you didn’t, how could you have won it?
·  If it is legitimate, you will never have to pay a cent to receive your winnings!  Remember: stop, don’t rush into anything, ask questions, or discuss it with a trusted friend.

If you still have reservations and don’t know what to do, please call us here at the Sheriff’s Office, (804) 365-6140.

"GRANDPARENT" SCAM


 A grandparent receives a frantic call from someone they believe to be their grandchild who sounds distressed. The caller claims to be involved in some type of trouble while traveling in another state or overseas and asks the grandparent to immediately wire money to post bail or pay for medical treatment or car repairs.
·  Don’t answer phone numbers you don’t know.
·  Don’t assume someone that addresses you as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or other relative is actually who they say they are- verify it.
· 
Your relative asking you to wire them money for an emergency should be a red flag to you.
·  Confirm it is your grandchild or relative by calling them at a phone number you previously have for them or their parents.
·  Don’t wire any money without confirming they are who they say they are.

IRS SCAMS AND TAX IDENTITY FRAUD


IRS scams occur when you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, US Treasury Department , or a local law enforcement agency and claim that you owe back taxes.  They will warn that if you or your lawyer don’t call them back ASAP, they will have to serve a warrant for your arrest. The call usually comes from a 202 area code and the scammer may request that payment is made with a Moneypak or other reloadable card. Please know the IRS, US Treasury Department, or the Hanover County Sheriff's Office  will not call you for anything, especially a payment.  Remember if you have caller ID and you don’t know the number displayed, do not answer the phone. Let the call go to your voicemail/answering machine and you will decrease your chances of becoming a victim.

Click here for more information on tax-related scams.

DOMINIOM VIRGINIA POWER SCAMS

There is a scam involving callers identifying themselves as an employee of Dominion Virginia Power or some other local power company.  The scammer will say that your power bill is overdue and will demand immediate payment or threaten to disconnect the power.  Dominion Virginia Power will not ask customers by telephone or in person to pay immediately in cash or by green-dot cards that serve as cash. It may ask customers who are behind on their bills to go to an authorized Dominion Virginia Power payment center to pay their bill. Any customer with a question about such a call should contact the company at 1-866-DOM-HELP, (1-866-366-4357).  

REPAIR SCAMS


·  Be careful with any contractors coming to your home without you contacting them first.  Obtain their information and inform them you will contact them to set an appointment (if you wish).  Do not leave your home at their request to accompany them to look at damage, repairs, trees, etc. to your property.
· 
Always get more than one estimate (preferably 3).
· 
Don’t be forced into signing a contract right away (take your time).
· 
Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed even if you know the contractor.
· 
Check references before deciding which contractor to choose.
· 
Never sign a contract with blanks or initial in the blanks.
· 
Don’t pay a contractor in full until the work is fully completed.
· 
Check with the state licensing authorities to see if the contractor is licensed to do business in Virginia, as well as checking for complaints with the Better Business Bureau

OTHER PREVENTION TIPS AND QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

 
·  Do your homework—be absolutely sure you know who you’re dealing with. Independently verify who they work for or are representing (e.g., call the company in question using a phone number you obtain from a phone book, not one that is provided or printed on the document given to you).
·  Always read any contracts, insurance agreements, etc., in their entirety. If you don’t understand a document, have a trusted relative or your lawyer read it before you sign it.
·  Take your time—don’t be pressured into making an on-the-spot purchasing decision with less than all the facts.
·  Don’t let strangers into your home no matter how convincing they may seem.
·  Don’t answer phone calls, emails, or texts from numbers/addresses you don’t recognize.
     o Be absolutely certain of who you’re communicating with.
     o Why would they be contacting you?
     o Are they asking for personal information (in order to steal your identity)?
     o Do you do business with the company/person contacting you?