Attorney General Austin Knudsen is warning Montanans of scammers attempting to obtain personal information from unsuspecting individuals over the phone by claiming to be law enforcement officials and he’s asking everyone not to give any personal information out.
“The fraudsters are disguising their phone number, so on caller ID it appears the number is coming from a legitimate law enforcement office, which is also referred to as “spoofing.” Once on the phone with an individual, the scammer will threaten the victim with outstanding warrants or investigations to try to obtain personal information, like bank account numbers. Other times, to supposedly clear the charges against them, the victim is ordered to obtain reloadable debit cards or other forms of payment, then provide the card numbers to the scammer,” said AG Knudsen.
An Anaconda woman recently shared her story of losing her life savings to scammers claiming to be law enforcement.
“Always be on high alert for scammers looking to take advantage of you. Especially during the holidays, more criminals seem to be looking to make a quick buck,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “If anyone asks you for personal information over the phone do not provide it unless you can verify who you are speaking to and always trust your gut.”
The DOJ’s Office of Consumer Protection encourages Montanans who are targeted by these scammers to either hang up the phone.
If you think a law enforcement agency may be trying to get a hold of you legitimately, take the following steps:
- Ask the caller for his/her name and immediate supervisor;
- Ask under what authority this call is being made;
- Ask the court of jurisdiction;
- Hang up, find the law enforcement agency’s phone number from their official website (such as the city or county website) or in the phone book, and call the agency at that number to verify the information provided; and
- NEVER provide personal information over the phone to someone unless you initiated the contact (you called them) and you are certain you know who you are speaking to.
“To report an attempted scam, use OCP’s convenient online reporting form here. You can also call to speak with one of our investigators at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500, visit OCP’s homepage at https://dojmt.gov/consumer/, or call your local law enforcement agency. Last year, the Office of Consumer Protection fielded 945 scam complaints and successfully saved Montanans from losing more than $1.3 million, including $869,600 that was recovered for Montanans who were victimized by scammers and $465,579 in prevented loss for consumers who called inquiring about whether they were being scammed,” said AG Knudsen.