The San Mateo Police Department is warning residents of a recent trend in fraud and scam cases.
San Mateo Police Fraud Detective Mark Ernst notcied the increase in fraud/scam reports, in which the potential victim receives a phone call from someone identifying themselves as a “bill collection” agency.
Ernst said this is a ploy on the part of the unidentified caller (suspect) to get the unsuspecting victim to voluntarily provide the suspect with vital personal identifying information belonging to the victim:
- The suspect tells the victim they have a debt that should be paid immediately.
- The suspect says they have the victim’s name, phone number and social security number and this information was used to open some type of account.
- The suspect then agrees when the victim then tells them that it must be a fraudulent account.
- The suspect tells the victim to make a police report about the fraud, and to FAX the police report back to the suspect (the police report contains vital identifying information belonging to the victim!).
- None of the victims had actually received any official letters or calls from legitimate businesses regarding any debts and/or opening of accounts prior to this type of telephone call described above.
Ernst has called the victims back immediately upon seeing their online report and advises victims NOT to fax their information to the suspect-caller.
He believes the suspect-caller is requesting the FAX of the online report to gather additional information on potential victims.
Due to these proactive measures, at this point, there have been no confirmed fraud victims.
Ernst advises the following:
- NEVER give any personal information over the phone.
- ALWAYS require written documentation of any debt collection through the U.S. Mail.
- If you have additional concerns over such a call being made as described above, you should initiate a call to your banking/financial institution to determine the validity of such a phone call.
Contact SMPD Dispatch at 650-522-7700 or visit the city's website www.cityofsanmateo.org to make a report if you believe you are a victim of fraud.
Anyone with questions about these or other frauds and scams may contact Detective Mark Ernst at 650-522-7664 firstname.lastname@example.org .