“Ask The Chief” allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us.

Q: I was notified that I was a Publishing Clearing House contest winner, and a prize of $5.5 million plus a Ford Explorer would arrive as soon as I paid the state taxes on my winnings. Can you identify the top scams reported in Red Wing and what citizens should do if notified by a scammer?

A: The most reported scams in Red Wing primarily play on an individual fears or the excitement of receiving large sums of money. They consist of someone saying they have a warrant for your arrest and the caller is from the CIA, FBI or IRS.

IRS scams are most prevalent this time of year (tax filing season), normally someone calls that you own previous taxes and you will be arrested unless you pay a specified amount immediately. Another scam that is reported involves the receipt of a large sum of money if you pay the taxes or release fees prior to the money being sent.

If you have truly won, most prize company’s or estate attorney’s will withhold the taxes or fees from the total you receive. Do not send any money via wire, prepaid credit or gaming cards.

Xcel Energy scams, where the caller threatens to shut off your power, if you do not send in a payment immediately are also reported.

AARP reported that scams increase five times once an individual reaches the age of 60. Tthis is mostly due to the fact that scammers believe you have retirement funds or home equity available to pay the scams.

If you have a warrant for your arrest, you will know about it, unpaid taxes and other unpaid bills will be sent via mail from your provider, if in doubt, contact the customer service number that is on a previous statement that you know if from a valid vendor. If you receive notice that a long lost relative left you an estate, beware of reply emails that utilize a gmail.com or other free email option. Most large estate attorneys have a customized email address.

To reduce your chances of being a victim of a scam, have your phone number added to the National Do Not Call List, located at www.donotcall.gov.

Also, AARP reported that the longer you stay on the line talking with a potential scammer, the more likely they believe they can convince you to send money, which may get you added to a target list. If you call that, you do not recognize or believe to be a scam, hang up!

You can also report attempted scams with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or via the FBI scam-reporting site, www.ic3.gov/complaint.

If you do suffer a loss, contact the Red Wing Police Department at the non-emergency number 651-385-3155. Please have copies of your contacts, any caller identification numbers, the method of payment you utilized to send the money and the amount of loss. Stay Aware, Stay Safe. #RWPD

References

1. AARP Scams and Frauds, located online at: https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/?intcmp=GLBNAV-SL-MON-CONP

2. Federal Bureau of Investigations Internet Crimes Complaint page, located online at: https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx

3. Federal Trade Commission, online fraud reporting website, located online at: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1