Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
When a stranger calls to say you’ve won something, you haven’t. Ignore that flutter of excitement. Listen to the voice that says, “Why would someone call you out of the blue to tell you you’ve won a sweepstakes you don’t even remember entering?”
The Winston County Sheriff’s Department explained that scammers from an 876 area code –most likely Jamaica- are calling local cell phone numbers to get the person into “Green Dot” money scam.
“I would advise not even answering from that area code,” said Winston County Sheriff Jason Pugh.
In the scam persons are told they have won money and prizes but to collect they must purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak card and provide the number to the company- the scammers.
"The suspects are taking advantage of people and convincing them that they are winning the lottery. They are winning a brand new Mercedes and they’re going to deliver that Mercedes, but what they need to do first is to go specifically go to a store and purchase this certain amount of Green Dot money card and then give them that number," said Sheriff Pugh.
Once victims load money onto the Green Dot card and give that number to the scammers, authorities explain that anyone with the identification number can steal the funds. If those funds go out of the country, they can no longer be tracked.
Sheriff Pugh advises everyone to beware of scams and explained a person should never provide their social security number to someone they don’t know over the phone.
Advice to avoid scams:
Bogus phone calls and emails are constantly surfacing. The Winston County Sheriff’s Department offers some basic tips to help keep you from becoming a victim of these or similar scams:
*NEVER reply to an email, pop-up, telephone or text message that asks for personal or financial information. Legitimate companies WILL NOT ask for this information.
*ALWAYS contact the organization using a telephone number you know to be correct if you are concerned about your account. Do not call or text the number left in the message, and NEVER follow an internet link to a site.
*ALWAYS keep your anti-virus software up to date. In addition, use a firewall, which helps to make you invisible on the Internet and blocks communication from unauthorized sources.
*BE CAUTIOUS about opening attachments or downloading files from emails you receive, regardless of the sender.
Anyone who suspects they have been a victim of this scam or any other, should contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-281-4418.
To check phone numbers that seem suspicious, visit 800notes.com, an online user-built database on which people can register fraud attempts and other suspicious calls.