The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

November 23, 2013

Sheriff urges local residents to be cautious about scams

Palestine Herald-Press


A Palestine resident reported Friday to the Herald-Press a telephone scam of which local citizens should be aware.

Katy McNellis of Palestine said a scam organization posing as a life insurance company called her home asking medical-related questions and attempting to detract personal information.

“What they’re trying is for your Social Security number,” she said.

McNellis said the scammers called her residence multiple times, trying for more information each time.

“They get real friendly—I almost wanted to give them my Social Security number. They just got my confidence,” McNellis said.

Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor said that unfortunately, the sheriff’s office hears reports of such solicitations on a daily basis.

“There are so many scams out there,” Taylor said. “People just need to be cautious and never accept solicitation over the phone.”

Taylor added that citizens should especially be on the lookout for scams during the holiday season—saying this is a time when “they ramp it up” — as well as for scams dealing with ObamaCare.

“I want to caution people about the health care thing,” he said. “People are going to get scammed over and over and over thinking they're dealing with the government when they're not.”

Taylor added he has seen a lot of scams posing as prizes, or someone in a foreign country wanting to deposit money in America.

“It's more prevalent through emails and the phone,” he said, adding that residents should verify information and just “use common sense.”

“If you have to send money in to get some sort of prize, you don't have a prize,” Taylor said.

The Federal Trade Commission reports that every year, thousands of people lose money to telemarketing scams — anywhere from a few dollars to their life savings.

The FTC reports that telephone scammers are good at what they do, saying anything in order to cheat people out of their money. Scammers often appeal to emotion, asking about family, calling persons by their first name, etc. They may also go to great lengths to “verify” their information, offering phony names, addresses and telephone numbers.

But Anderson County residents need not be duped.

If an unknown representative calls a residence trying to sell something that the recipient doesn't think they need, the FTC recommends the recipient simply say, "No thanks."

If a telemarketer continues to pressure, especially for personal information such as a credit card or Social Security number — as was the case with McNellis — then it’s likely a scam.

Hang up and report it to the FTC at