It’s not the IRS calling; Phone scammers hitting Landrum businesses

Published 12:37 pm Friday, December 8, 2017

Phone scammers hitting Landrum businesses

LANDRUM – If someone called you saying they are from Duke Power and they are going to turn your power off if you don’t pay them, be very wary. Landrum Police Chief Tim Edgens said this is the latest scam that’s hit the Landrum area.

“I got the phone call with a restaurant full of people,” said Southern Delights owner Linda Fitzgerald. “They said they were going to turn the power off in 20 minutes if I didn’t give them my credit card information.”

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Kim Karaman of Landrum Antique Mall said she also received a call and realized it was a scam when they didn’t have her account number.

Edgens said these types of scams increase this time of year. “We’ve had more and more incidents with scams over the phone,” said Edgens. “Last week they targeted every business owner in Landrum.”

Another popular scam that goes around occasionally is a caller saying they are from the IRS and you are behind in tax payments. This is often a recorded message or even a voicemail directing the victim to return the call to make payment arrangements.

According to Edgens, people from Africa are responsible for most of these scams. He has alerted the FBI who said, because the scammers are calling from outside the country, there’s not much the government can do but warn people to be cautious.

In addition to scammers saying they are from Duke Power or the IRS, they are calling people and posing as a corrections facility officer. “They tell the person answering the phone they have a family member incarcerated and they need to give payment information in order for the family member to be released,” said Edgens. “This was trending about six months ago. Most of the calls targeted elderly people saying their son or grandson was incarcerated in another area, such as Anderson County.”

Edgens added that if you do receive a call saying a family member is in jail and needs to be bailed out, hang up. He said you can call the family to check on them, but do not give out payment information over the phone.

“Corrections facilities never accept payments over the phone. They don’t operate that way,” he said. “You have to go in person to arrange bail or bond payments.”

Edgens said some of the scammers were telling people to purchase a pre-paid Visa card or a money order and call back with the payment information. Others apparently just ask for credit card information.

He went on to confirm that utility companies typically do not call people behind on bills, they send a letter. The IRS never calls anyone. They will always send a letter.

The best thing is to be aware and do not give any information over the phone. “Be mindful of what you owe and don’t owe,” Edgens said. “If it’s legitimate they won’t ask for a pre-paid Visa card.”

These types of scams often target the elderly because they are more vulnerable. Edgens encouraged people to alert elderly family members about the scams and warn them to never give out credit card or other information over the phone. “These scams come in waves,” he said. “This time of year is popular. Just be aware.”