DRACUT — Acting Chief Stephen D. Chaput would like to warn residents to be vigilant after reports of a potential scam around unemployment assistance.
“We’ve recently received a number of fraud reports where residents receive a letter claiming to be from the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance,” Chief Chaput said. “It’s unfortunately all too common that scammers are trying to take advantage of vulnerable people, especially during these uncertain times. We hope that these tips will help residents more easily identify some telltale signs of a scam and strongly encourage you to report any suspicious activity you might encounter.”
The Dracut Police Department wishes to share the following fraud avoidance tips from the Federal Trade Commission:
- Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email. Scammers will often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, family member, charity or company you do business with.
- Do online searches. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
- Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
- Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.
- Consider how you pay. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.
- Talk to someone. Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.
- Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.
- Be skeptical about free trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.
- Don’t deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.
- Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams. Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox.
If anyone has questions or feels like they have been victimized, they are encouraged to call the Dracut Police Department at 978-957-2123.
Massachusetts residents who believe they are victims of fraud or other criminal activity related to the pandemic should contact the United States Attorney’s Office at USAMA.email@example.com or call 1-888-221-6023 and leave a message. Members of the public can also contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by visiting www.IC3.gov.