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Scams continue to be a problem for many

The Austin Police Department is advising people to be on the lookout for some common mail, email and telephone scams.

Several scams are continuing problems in the area and, while many scams come from outside the country, there has been an increase in U.S. based scams. Some are easy to detect, while others are more complicated.

One of the most common scams involves a person being notified that they have won money and need to send a certain dollar amount to cover the fees before the money can be released.

Sometimes the scammer will claim to be the winner and willing to share with the victim if they provide the necessary funds. Police say that if you have not entered a contest or personally purchased a lottery ticket, then you have not won anything and should not send any money.

Another money scam involves someone buying an item online via check. The scammer will purchase an item for more than the agreed upon amount and ask that the extra be withdrawn and sent to another party as a pick-up fee.

What the victim does not know is that once the funds have been withdrawn, they will be stuck for the whole amount once the check bounces.

Police advise that the seller wait until the check has cleared before withdrawing any funds.

Phone scams are very common, particularly when targeting the elderly. Scammers will call claiming to be a relative in jail or in trouble in a foreign country and in need of money.

Others will claim to be the IRS or a collection agency and try to intimidate victims into surrendering personal information. In some cases, they claim they are raising money for a charity. Police say that under no circumstances should you give up any personal information over the phone.

To determine whether or not a call, piece of mail or email is a scam, police advise to look for the following red flags:

•You are asked to put money on a debit/gift card

•You are pressured to act quickly

•The signature on a personal check does not match the name printed on the check

•The amount on the check is not the agreed amount

•You are asked to give personal information

•The call/mail/email is coming from outside the country

•The call/mail/email seems too good to be true

Police say that if you suspect someone is a scammer, you should do the following:

•Call the company/organization the individual claims to represent

•If they claim to be family, call other members of your family to verify

•If they are someone you have only interacted with over the phone or email, do not meet them in person

•Notify local authorities

•Most importantly, do not participate