The hostage scam was reported in Pennsylvania by several news sources, including ABC27.com and The Patriot News. At least six Pennsylvania residents have received phone calls claiming that a relative was being held hostage or had been involved in a car crash. The typical ransom is $2,000. According to authorities, the calls originated from a pre-paid cell phone in Puerto Rico, but Caller ID displayed a local number. Both news sources indicated that similar reports had been filed in other states.
KPVI, an NBC affiliate in Pocatello, ID reported that Idaho Falls Power was warning customers of telephone calls from individuals claiming to be from the power company. The caller demands payment of a past due bill immediately or threatens to turn off the power. In Southern California, Southern California Edison issued a similar warning to their customers in their December bills. Both utilities are advising customers that real representatives of the company will carry ID and will not threaten immediate shutoff by phone. They also recommend you call the utility if you are ever in doubt about how much you may owe.
Soliciting donations for fraudulent charities is a favorite tactic of scammers during the holidays. The Sheboygan Press reported on this scam after the local police department issued a warning to local residents. The bulk of charitable giving takes place between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. Charities rely on this giving to support their efforts throughout the year. Learn more about fake charities in my featured scam tip here.
Three tips to stay ahead of the con
- Report threatening calls to the police. It’s the only way the criminals will be caught.
- Never give out personal or financial information to a stranger over the telephone unless you know then other person or company.
- Never wire money or use MoneyPak Green Dot cards or other forms of payment. These payment forms give you no recourse to recover your money. Credit cards are best for transactions because you have more time to dispute charges.