Avoiding Scams

Avoiding Scams

Do not send money to people you do not know!

There are numerous types of scams that scammers will use to convince you to give them your information. The easiest way to avoid scams is to never give your information out to someone you do not know and do not give or receive money from people you do not know. Anyone can be a victim of fraud. Criminals can gain access to your information in different ways. Some may steal your physical card if you lose or leave your wallet/ purse unattended.

They might obtain your information through phishing scams, which is where criminals will send you an email from what might look like a trusted source, such as your bank, and ask you to provide or confirm your information. They may call you on the phone stating you have won a prize and ask for your information that way. If you do anything with your card online, they can access your information that way. Sometimes your card information can simply be purchased online from a website. Then the offender will use your card to make purchases, obtain loans or housing in your name, pay their bills, or sell it to someone else.

Report a Fake Police Department Caller

The Williamsburg Police Department will never call soliciting money or donations of any kind! If you get a call claiming to be the Williamsburg Police Department asking for money, call us right away at 757-220-2331.

Tips on Avoiding Different Types of Scams

The Williamsburg Police Department strives to help people avoid being the victims of fraud, so we have provided some tips on how to avoid being scammed. We cannot guarantee you will never be a victim of fraud, but if you follow these basic tips, you can avoid most scams and know what to do if you are the victim of fraud.

Google Play, iTunes, or Other Gift Cards

One of the most common types of fraud we receive reports of is fraud using Google Play or iTunes gift cards specifically, but it is not limited to only these types of gift cards. Scammers will ask you to go to a store that sells Play or iTunes gift cards, such as Walmart, and load them with a specific amount of money. Then they will ask you to provide them with the card number either verbally or by sending them a picture of it. They will then use the card without sending you whatever they promised. Scammers do not need to have a physical card in order to use it. You should never have to spend money in order to receive money.

  • Never use Google Play or iTunes gift cards to pay for anything outside of the Play or Apple stores.
  • Never share the card number from the back of the gift cards.
  • Never use gift cards for anything except to give as a gift.

Types of Scams

There are a variety of existing scams, and scammers are always coming up with new ways to get your information. We have listed below just a few of the many types of fraud that scammers may try. These are some of the ones that seem to occur more frequently in the Burlington area or that Burlington citizens have been victims of recently. Visit the USA.gov for a more in-depth list of types of scams.

  • Telephone scams
    Scammers will call or text with different types of offers like free products, trips, investment opportunities, and more. These calls may be robocalls or real people.
  • Banking Scams
    These are scams that attempt to access your bank account information. Some common types are overpayment scams where scammers will send you a check, say they sent the check for too much, and ask you to wire it back to them. This results in you being out the value of the check plus whatever amount you wired to the scammer.
    Unsolicited checks are another type of banking scam where the offender will send you a check for no reason and once you cash it signs you up for a loan or purchase you did not want. Phishing scams are also fairly common. You may receive an email that asks you to confirm your bank information. Most banks will not ask you to do this in an email, so always check with your bank before confirming anything.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Scams
    IRS Scams are another common type of fraud. These can occur year-round but can become more frequent during tax season. These usually consist of someone contacting you stating they are from the IRS either via phone or letter. They will say that you owe taxes and demand you pay them immediately. These scams can also include phishing emails asking you to confirm your information.
  • Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams
    These consist of victims receiving phone calls, robocalls, texts, or emails stating they have won some kind of prize. However, they must pay a small fee or provide their information in order to collect it.
  • Medicare Scams
    These scams are usually perpetrated by someone contacting the victim by phone stating that they need a new Medicare card. They will then ask you to provide them with your information so they can send a new card.

Tips to Avoid Scams

It is not always possible to avoid being the victim of fraud or a scam. Criminals do their best to make their pitch sound convincing, and your credit card information can be obtained with relative ease. However, there are some basic things you can do to avoid having your identity stolen or falling victim to a scam. We have listed below some basic tips to help you avoid fraud.

  • Do review your bank and credit card statements for irregular amounts or strange purchases, review your personal credit report for new loans or leases that you do not recognize.
  • Do not give your information to people you do not know. Scammers and thieves may contact you by phone, email, mail, or even in person asking you to provide or confirm your information.
  • Do shred or destroy receipts, credit offers, expired credit cards, and any other document that could contain your personal information. This prevents someone from going through your trash and obtaining your information.
  • Do not carry your social security card with you unless necessary, store it, and other personal information in a secure location.
  • Do create complex passwords, install firewalls or protection software on your electronic devices and use your phone's security features.

Common Scams Targeting Seniors & How to Avoid Them

Elderly people face all of the same scams as everyone else, but some scams disproportionately affect the older generations. Many of these fall under the umbrella of elder fraud - the misappropriation or abuse of financial control in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust, resulting in harm to an elderly victim. Sixty and Me has published a guide detailing the common scams targeting seniors and how they can protect themselves. Learn more about common scams that target the elderly and how to avoid them!

  1. Community Engagement Unit

    Physical Address
    425 Armistead Avenue
    Williamsburg, VA 23185

    Phone: (757) 220-2331
    Fax: (757) 259-7204
    Emergency: 911