Mercer Island residents warned of new telephone scam

A new telephone scam is sweeping Mercer Island. Scam artists are calling up residents pretending to be representing law enforcement agencies, even the Mercer Island Police Department, asking for donations. These scam artists are asking for credit card numbers and personal information over the telephone to try and get you to “donate” to a good cause.

What you are doing is providing these scam artists with your personal credit card information and all of your sensitive personal information they will need to make fraudulent charges against your credit cards/credit score. You are also providing them with information to open new fraudulent accounts in your name. Not only can this hurt your credit score, but it can also cause unnecessary financial woes in your daily lives.

The first thing you need to remember is this: the Mercer Island Police Department will never call you and ask for a donation. We will also never ask you for your personal information over the telephone, unless it pertains to an investigation. However, keep in mind that some non-profit agencies may be affiliated with law enforcement and do call up asking for donations.

Here is a tip to keep you safe from this scam:

• Call and verify the legitimacy of the agency and claim. If they are claiming to be a police department, ask for their name and phone number, then tell them you will call them back. Go to your computer and cross reference their agency by searching for that police department online. Call the number you find online and inquire into the “donation” before you proceed any further. Then it is up to you on whether you want to donate your money to them.

Here are some important things to remember when dealing with other popular scams:

• Other scams that we deal with target our elder community. These scam artists will attempt to prey on the trusting nature of people in their later years. Usually a scam artist will find the name of your family member, call you, and pretend to be that relative in trouble trapped in a foreign country. The scam artist will usually ask you to send money through a money order (i.e. Western Union) to “bail” them out of trouble. The scam artist will also ask you not to tell anyone about them being in trouble because they do not want anyone in their family to find out about it. The best advice that I can give you is to immediately call a family member to check on the location of the person claiming to be in trouble.

• Another popular scam is when someone will call you or send you mail saying that you have won a large sum of money (i.e. lottery) or a great prize for doing absolutely nothing. This is a scam. They will make claims that if you pay for the taxes, then they will release the funds to you. Just remember, if something is too good to be true … it usually is.

• Watch out for one another. If you receive anything (telephone calls, emails, mail) that claims you have won something or require you to give out personal/financial information, call a family member first and talk to them about what you received.

If they are legitimate, then they will let you verify their legitimacy and allow you to call them back. But, chances are, it is a scam.



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