Twin City police warn of telephone, email scams
BLOOMINGTON, Jan 02, 2013 (The Pantagraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
National tragedies like the shootings in Connecticut and superstorm Sandy add to the traditional holiday impulse to give to worthy causes, but police say donors should beware of scams.
Normal police Assistant Chief Eric Klingele said his department doesn't see a lot of telephone scams or "phishing" cases, but they do happen. Phishing involves sending an email that appears to be from a legitimate enterprise but actually misdirects the user to a fake website or downloads malicious software in order to steal personal information
People should be wary if they receive a phone call soliciting a donation. Klingele recommends checking up on the organization by going to its official website or otherwise checking out the charity.
"If people are leery of it, they should ask for a contact number to verify the fundraising. Much of the time if it's legitimate, they'll give out that number, especially if they've outsourced (solicitation to another company)," Klingele said.
Many scams can be very convincing, so don't be afraid to verify whether the call is legitimate, he said.
"If it doesn't sound right to you -- like I've never heard this organization do a fundraiser before or this person didn't sound like they were from this organization -- just pass on it," he said. "There aren't a whole lot of telltale signs."
Assistant Chief Clay Wheeler of the Bloomington Police Department said he couldn't cite statistics saying for certain that scams are more frequent during the holidays, but potential donor should always be vigilant.
"Be sure who you're really talking to," Wheeler said. "If it's not a regular charity you're used to dealing with, you should be suspicious if they're asking a lot of information."
Wheeler said residents who are unsure of a phone solicitation should ask for a mailing instead.
Both said people who believe they may have given money or information to a scammer should contact the police and file a report.
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