Chief: I don't want our hospitality to turn us into victims - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Chief: I don't want our hospitality to turn us into victims

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Police and consumer advocates are warning the public about scammers. Most people have been on high alert since the statewide security breach.

Now, there are scammers trying to capitalize on your vulnerability.

"It's always drilling down to the scam artist trying to separate you from your money or your personal identifying information," said Carri Lybarker with the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Lybarker says the most recent scam targets victims over the phone.

The scam artist says in order to get a new Medicare card you have to verify your social security number.

"It has a fear factor to it where even if you may be a savvy consumer - wait a minute Medicare wouldn't call me to ask me for that information then you think what could the consequences be if I don't provide it," said Lybarker. "Will I not get my Medicare card? Not be able to seek medical treatment?"

SCE&G is even warning people to beware of scammers asking for immediate payment over the phone or showing up for a service call with phony credentials.

"If there's any kinds of unsolicited phone call coming from Medicare or any business for that matter, where they're asking to verify an account whether it be by providing your SSN, a credit card number or any other kind of personal identifying information, that's a red flag, be suspicious," Lybarker added.

On Monday, a man impersonating a police officer, tried to get personal information from an elderly man - face to face, on his front porch, by telling him his bank accounts had been hacked.

That man refused to up the info but Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott says it's not so easy for others, especially when the scammers are good at what they do.

"This guy really represented himself as a credible individual for what he was doing," said Scott. "He was a well-dressed individual, very articulate - spoke in a fashion that he was very familiar with what transpired."

"We often hear people say they feel like a prisoner in their own home and they don't want to be rude or hang up the phone but it's best to do so, otherwise you look like you could be a victim," said Lybarker. "If they don't get you that time, they'll get you next time."

Experts says be extra cautious during the holiday season.

"We're a very giving community but I don't want our hospitality to turn us into victims," Scott added.

There is one tool you can download onto your Smartphone or tablet that can help Columbia police catch a criminal or a scam artist, it's called "My P-D."

It's an app for android or apple devices.

Once you download the app, you can report criminal activity or even check out crime in your area http://www.consumer.sc.gov/consumer/publications/Pages/FraudsSchemesandRipoffs.aspx

 

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