A Pine Bluff man said he received a call recently from an apparent scammer falsely claiming the man’s wife owed money for an out-of-state traffic ticket.
A spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said the call sounded familiar to several “spoofing” scams that have occurred in recent months, in which people posing as government employees call people and ask for payment.
Arkansans who receive suspicious calls are encouraged to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office at 800-482-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The office can also be reached at ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
The Pine Bluff man said the caller identified herself as an employee of a collection agency. The caller said the man’s wife owed $100 for running a red light in Marshall, Texas, on Jan. 17, and requested a description of her vehicle and her license plate number.
The man, who asked that he not be identified, said he grew suspicious because his wife was not in Marshall, Texas on that date and because police would already possess license plate information if the ticket was legitimate.
An employee with the Marshall, Texas, Police Department told the Commercial Wednesday that red light violations recorded by surveillance cameras clearly show license plates. Further, such violations are mailed to motorists with a ticket containing a picture of the license plate and who the car is registered to.
“He wouldn’t have to tell [the collection agent] who the car is registered to,” the employee said.
The employee said many people have been calling the police department in Marshall recently to report scams, in particular from callers claiming to be employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Judd Deere, a spokesman for Rutledge, said “spoofing” technology allows scammers to manipulate caller ID technology so that incoming calls appear to come from a government agency. The scammer then poses as a government agent, telling the citizen that he or she owes money. Arkansans have reported recent scams in which calls appear to come from the Sebastian County sheriff, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) and Rutledge herself, Deere said.
“Scammers who pose as a representative of a state agency know consumers are more likely to listen,” Rutledge said in a press release last month. “Arkansans need to know to keep personal or credit card information private, especially if a person or agency is requesting it during an unsolicited phone call.”
DHS received at least four reports of a scammer posing as a DHS employee who called clients of the Medicaid Savings Program, according to the press release. After asking the client questions about their insurance, the scammer requests the client’s credit card number “to continue their service or offer other special discounts through the Medicaid Savings Program, many times requesting a $500 processing fee.”
Rutledge offered four tips for people who receive suspicious calls. For starters, never provide financial account information to strangers. Be skeptical of callers who ask for fees to be paid by wiring money or through a pre-paid credit card. Such payments may never be seen again; legitimate organizations accept “standard and traceable forms of payments.”
People who do reveal financial or personal information can become targets of other scammers, because the information is sometimes shared by the original scammer. If a call appears to be coming from a government agency, consider hanging up and calling a number for the agency found on its website.