GLOUCESTER –Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Police Chief Edward Conley and Fire Chief Eric Smith would like to alert the community to a phone scam spoofing the phone numbers of the police and fire departments.
The Gloucester Police Department had received approximately 10 reports of the scam as of Thursday afternoon.
“Unfortunately, these types of phone scams are becoming more and more common,” Mayor Romeo Theken said. “We’re urging residents to be cautious and familiarize themselves with the signs of a scam. If you do get one of these calls, don’t pick up or hang up right away.”
The scam phone calls appear as local numbers, including the police and fire departments. During the call, the scam caller will share limited information about the person they’ve contacted, such as a name and address, in an attempt to gain that person’s trust.
“A police or fire department will never call a resident and ask for their personal or financial information over the phone,” Police Chief Conley said. “If you don’t recognize a phone number, let it go to voicemail. If it’s important, whoever is calling will leave a message and you can always call back.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has several tips for residents looking to protect themselves from falling victim to a phone scam:
- Let calls from unknown phone numbers go to voicemail. Do not answer.
- If a caller claims to represent a company, like Google or Apple, hang up. Call the company, and verify if that individual was actually who they were claiming to be. Be sure to call the correct phone number by going to the organization’s website or looking at a recent bill from that organization.
- Know that even “local” numbers on caller ID may not be from a local caller.
- Never pay for a service with a gift card. Legitimate companies and organizations will not ask you to pay for any service with a gift card.
- Report scam calls with the FCC Consumer Complaint Center by visiting consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us.
- Report any money lost to a scam call to local police.
- Check to see if your phone company has a service that will block robocalls.
- Consider adding your telephone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry www.donotcall.gov/. Law abiding telemarketers will not call phone numbers once they are added to the list.
“Hopefully these tips can help residents identify the warning signs of a scam and prevent anyone from falling victim to these calls,” Fire Chief Smith said. “If you do receive one of these calls, hang up.”