April 20, 2021

EPD warns of latest phone scam

Beware Scammers Pretending to be Publisher’s Clearinghouse

Eugene Police Headquarters Sign

Please be aware and know what to look for during a phone scam

Eugene Police has received some calls from the public about a publisher’s clearinghouse gift card scam. Thankfully, the people who have called us didn’t fall for the scam, but wanted to make us aware. The scammers are reported to have been calling retirement communities and apartments. Please be on the lookout for phone scams, and criminals who might be taking advantage of unsuspecting victims. Also many people are at home during the pandemic, which means they are more likely to answer the phone. Individuals are also more isolated and may be more easily taken advantage of. Criminals understand the current situation and will use every opportunity to prey on vulnerable victims. 

In this particular scam, the caller said they wanted to deliver a check from Publisher’s  Clearing House, and ask the victim to go purchase a gift card at a local store to release the funds. A version of this would involve a federal stimulus or other check. Don’t fall for any version of the gift card or cash card scam. 

Here is how it goes: A scammer from a local number calls you and announces you have been chosen or earned some money. You are to receive a specific amount, but they want to go purchase a gift card and then call them back. In general, if anyone requires you to go purchase a cash card or gift card to release a gift, pay a fine, or get money they promise you, know that is a scam. Also, with tax season being here, we can expect more scammers to try and take advantage of people. Scammers are thieves of opportunity and when they know people will be getting money, such as tax refunds, they are likely to seek victims.  No police agency, federal agency, or legitimate business will ever require you to go get a cash or gift card. In the past, EPD has taken reports of people getting calls telling them there is a problem with their social security number being used, a warrant for arrest, grandchild in jail, funds being held in limbo, or other ploy and that the victim must be responsible for getting the number secured by purchasing gift cards and providing the pin numbers over the phone. These scams try to alarm you, scare you, or entice you to play along sometimes in the hope for a payout.  Don’t be fooled. Scammers trick you into handing over your cash, personal I.D., checking account numbers, and credit card information any way they can. 

There are so many scams out there. Many scams try to alarm you or scare you.  Others just prey on your situation, or the vulnerability caused by an incident or event such as the pandemic. A list of scams is provided on EPD’s website https://www.eugene-or.gov/2394/Scams-Fraud-and-Identity-Theft . This site covers some of the most common scams we’ve seen in our area, but new ones are popping-up all the time. It is easy to get taken in, even if you are usually suspicious of scams. 

If you receive a phone call and recognize that the call is a scam, please hang up immediately and report the information to www.ic3.gov

If you are the victim of a scam and have incurred a loss, please call the EPD non-emergency at 541.682.5111. 

These cases provide an opportunity for a reminder on how to avoid becoming the victim of fraud. Scams are cyclical in nature. Eugene Police recommend to remain careful and skeptical of callers: 

•If someone asks you for your cash, gift cards, credit card numbers, security log-ins, or other personal information (especially if you don’t know them well), the safest move is to refuse their request and check with the police, or find an independent way to contact a legitimate business and follow up rather than responding right away to the caller.

•Don’t give out computer or phone log-ins, personal or financial information to someone who calls you.   If you are unsure, hang up and independently find the phone number of the alleged represented agency and call yourself.  A law enforcement agency will not ask you for this type of information or request that money be sent by way of money order for any reason.

•Beware of high pressure techniques, such as the need to give information or make a decision on the spot.

•If it sounds quirky or weird, or too good to be true, it probably is.

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