Scam phone calls are so prevalent that acting Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biederman gets at least five of them a day on his department-issued cell phone.
And Biederman wants to make sure that residents don’t fall victim to the latest telephone scam attempts – which, he says, have grown so advanced that they’re almost impossible to track down and trace.
“Everything nowadays is computer generated, so they can make any number they want appear on your phone,” Biederman said. “But there are a few signs – if it just says the call is originating in the United States, or it has a plus sign in front of the one and the number, it’s usually a marker that it’s an internet phone call, and that is typically how scammers contact people.”
According to Biederman, scammers purchase blocks of phone numbers and use software to dial as many as possible to determine whether or not they are actual, working numbers. In the event that somebody does pick up, or call back after being left an automated message, the scammers then know that they have a working phone number, and the frequency and intensity of the scam calls increases.
And some of the scams, if successful, have the ability to steal an abundance of sensitive information that scammers can then use to access accounts. The most recent one that has been received in Lathrop, according to the release that Lathrop Police Services put out last week, involves receiving a phone call from a 1-800 or 1-844 number with the caller leaving a message claiming that they’re from a large business like Amazon or Netflix. The prospective victim, if they call back, is connected to a “live agent” who informs them that their account has been hacked. When they express doubt, the scammer claims that they can prove it if they are given access to their computer, which is then used to plant spyware or malware that allows the scammer to see passwords as they are typed into online accounts – like banks or credit cards – and then use that information later for their gain.
Biederman said that a good rule of thumb is to never give personal information over the phone, and if a call seems like a scam, to hang up and contact local law enforcement so that they can follow-up and notify other residents of the potential scam if possible.
“That’s why we put these things out there – we want to warn the public and let them know that if they don’t recognize the number, that it’s probably a scam,” Biderman said. “And even if they do, they need to be cautious. A lot of times these scammers will leave automated messages, which is a giveaway – any legitimate company that needs to contact you for anything will have an actual person calling you.
“These scams are so prevalent, and it’s unfortunate – the only reason that they’re so prevalent is that they work, and people fall victim.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.