What are West Virginia Phone Scams?
West Virginia phone scams are frauds that are conducted over the phone in the state using telephone services. Phone scams take many forms and are often tricky. Scammers engage in live phone calls and robocalls to cheat West Virginians. There are also cases where they employ text messages to steal money and information for identity and financial thefts. Phone scammers do not use their real identities when preying on targets to avoid being tracked down by law enforcement. They pose as representatives of legitimate businesses or the government to deceive unsuspecting individuals. Reverse phone number lookup services can help uncover their identities.
The Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) and relevant agencies periodically publish scam alerts to keep residents abreast of current scams. The Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General (AGO) is the state's primary consumer protection agency. They provide information about how residents can protect themselves and avoid scams. Also, law enforcement agencies across the state's counties and major cities are not relenting in the fight against scams. They investigate incidents of phone scams and prosecute con artists where possible. West Virginians have three options for reporting cases of phone scams to the AGO. These are:
- They can fill out and submit an online version of the consumer complaint form.
- They can submit completed consumer complaint forms via email.
- Phone scam victims can download consumer complaint forms, fill them out, and send via mail to:
Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
P. O. Box 178
Charleston, WV 25326-1789
- IRS scams, where fraudsters pretend to be employees of the Internal Revenue Service to extort residents by demanding tax payment.
- Social security scams involve fraudulent persons who claim to be with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and trick their targets into sharing personal information.
- Tech support scams, where con artists pose as representatives of targets' computer companies to extort them and obtain sensitive information.
- Utility scams, in which targets are told that they have delinquent bills and must pay immediately to avoid service disconnection.
- Arrest warrant scams, where fraudsters impersonate law enforcement and threaten residents with arrest or jail if they fail to send money.
- Lottery scams are frauds in which con artists try to induce residents with bogus prizes and ask them to pay a small amount of money to claim their winnings.
- Charity scams are schemes where fraudsters claim to work for charity organizations and seek donations from residents in an attempt to rip them off.
- Advance fee scams
- Credit card frauds
- Health care scams
- Grandparent scams
- Kidnapping scams
What are West Virginia Arrest Warrant Scams?
Fraudsters impersonate law enforcement and use caller ID spoofing when preying on West Virginians to perpetrate arrest warrant scams. In these scams, con artists inform targeted residents that there are warrants out for their arrests and then instill fear in them. The callers will threaten to execute arrest unless their targets pay bonds by purchasing gift cards or wiring money to them. They often pretend to be helping targets out of such situations and urge them never to discuss their encounters with anyone. Never be in a hurry to pay such callers. Residents are encouraged to always verify arrest warrant claims by calling their local law enforcement offices.
Real law enforcement officers do not threaten arrest or solicit money over the phone. If you receive a call from anyone posing as a law enforcement officer with this type of claim, hang up immediately. Contact your local law enforcement agency to substantiate such claims. Persons who are victims of these scams can report to their nearest law enforcement offices. Reverse phone lookup websites can return the identity information of these scammers.
What are West Virginia IRS Scams?
These scams primarily target taxpayers and are more widespread during tax seasons. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scams have many variations, but all seek to obtain targets' personal information and steal their money. In the popular version, the callers claim to be employees of the IRS and coerce their targets into paying money they do not owe. They will accuse them of owing taxes and then threaten to arrest them if they fail to pay up right on the phone. These fraudsters have a preference for wire transfers and prepaid debit cards for payments.
The IRS will never threaten you with arrest, especially not over the phone. Their usual way of communicating with taxpayers is by mail. The IRS will call only when there are requests by taxpayers to do so. The Attorney General cautions residents against sending money to unknown persons over the phone. To report incidents of IRS scams, victims can file complaints online with the TIGTA or AGO. They can also file their complaints with the FTC.
What are Social Security Scams?
Avoid social security scams by all means to prevent identity theft. You can run unknown caller numbers through websites that offer reverse phone lookup services to ascertain their true identities and avoid these scams. Scammers pretend to be calling from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or other government agencies with frivolous claims. Sometimes, they may claim there is a problem with their targets' social security numbers (SSNs) or accounts. To fix it, the callers will request potential victims to confirm their SSNs for verification purposes. At other times, they may inform targeted persons that their SSNs have been linked to some grievous crimes. The callers will offer to clear targets' names in exchange for money, usually via wire transfer, mailed cash, or gift cards. They threaten to arrest and jail targets they perceive as hesitant and insist they must pay immediately.
Do not disclose your personal information or send money to anyone over the phone, especially if you did not initiate the call. The SSA or other government agencies will never ask for SSNs and information they already have on file or solicit money over the phone. Report incidents of these scams online to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), SSA, or contact the FTC at 1 (888) 382-1222.
What are West Virginia Advance Fee Scams?
Advance fee scams are frauds in which the victims pay money or part with something valuable in anticipation of receiving something of higher value. There are many variations of this scam in West Virginia. Typical examples include:
- Situations in which targeted persons must pay money to claim lottery winnings.
- Investment offers where targets are requested to put in their hard-earned money to receive multiple of their holdings at later dates.
- Financing arrangements in which individuals who need financial aids are asked to pay finders' fees in advance.
In these scams, the victims usually end up receiving little or nothing in return. Never rush into taking advantage of offers that appear juicy to avoid falling victim to scams. Make sure to understand any business arrangement you enter. You can even engage the service of an attorney if the terms seem knotty. Fraudsters who commit advance fee scams often pose as representatives of legitimate businesses to fool targets, but doing reverse phone lookups can help retrieve their identities. These types of scams can be reported to the FTC using their online complaint assistant.
How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?
- Put your phone number on the DNC Registry to avoid robocall scams. These are scams perpetrated using automated voices. Having your number on the registry exempts you from receiving calls from legitimate telemarketers. Any robocall that comes through your phone after adding your number to the list is a potential scam.
- Never reveal confidential information to anyone over the phone. Scammers usually pose as persons you can trust to get you to disclose private information.
- Do not send money to unknown persons over the phone even if they threaten arrest or jail. End such calls and report them to your local law enforcement.
- Terminate a phone call immediately if you suspect it is a scam call. Trying to interact further with the caller may get you scammed in the long run.
- Decline calls from unknown numbers. The FTC describes this as the best way to avoid phone scams. Anyone with urgent information can always leave messages for you.