New scam hits Memphis & Shelby Co.

Memphis law enforcement agencies are warning citizens of a recent telephone scam in which callers are demanding money for missing a court date or a call to jury duty.

The con arts are telling people who answer apparent random phone calls that they have missed jury duty — or some times a court date — and must immediately pay in person at the justice center at 201 Poplar, or they can pay with a credit card to avoid jail time.

Authorities explain that no legitimate representative of any police department or the Sheriff's Office will demand money over the phone. Here's what to do if such a call is received:

  • Do not comply with any request and hang up.
  • Contact the actual law enforcement agency to report the call.
  • Never meet an individual in person who makes such a call.

A spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff's Office explained that the only way the office would contact someone on a debt collection is in the form of a court-issued writ.

Watch out for latest scams

Con artists have been targeting Memphis businesses with two kinds of scams lately, according to Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division.

In one, scammers attempt to steal funds through false utility cutoff claims by phone unless a payment is made immediately via a “reloadable” credit card or pre-paid card.

In the second scam, a “gas usage statement” arrives by email disguised to look like a bill notification. These emails contain bogus information with a link to a website that will load malware to steal information from your computer.

Stay safe from con artist & fraudsters

  • With 40 million Americans over the age of 65, incidents of elder exploitation have become all too common. With nest eggs, home ownership and excellent credit ratings serving as enticements for those on the prowl, older Americans are being swindled out of at least $2.9 billion a year. Seniors, their families and caregivers all should be aware and all should beware.

  • As baby boomers begin to retire, this number will only increase. Fraud and exploitation come in a myriad of methods – from telemarketing scams to investment fraud to identity theft.

  • Financial peace of mind isn't the only issue seniors need to protect. Elder abuse, suspicious neighborhood activity and strangers wanting access inside the homes of the elderly also are situations that should to be reported.

  • SeniorBsafe offers a hotline number to help older citizens combat their fears. Call the number and leave a name, return number and brief message. Someone will call you back shortly and help or refer you to someone who can help. Or, you can call the Crisis Center's hotline and talk with someone immediately: 901-274-7477

Things to know:

  • Order salesmen to leave or just keep the door closed. This is the easiest way to avoid a "hard sell" approach.

  • If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Usually the offer includes a high-percentage interest rate tacked on to what appears to be a low monthly rate.

  • If you do make a purchase you regret, return it immediately. The Federal Trade Commission has a "cooling off rule" that allows you three days to cancel for a full refund.

Here are warning signs of a scam:

  1. High-pressure sales.
  2. No company ID that can be verified
  3. Too good to be true offers
  4. Limited-time offers

Ask for a phone number to verify. Not sure? Don't sign anything!