Police warn of increase in phone scams over holidays

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Reno Police have taken numerous reports in recent weeks from residents who have lost money to phone scammers.

Some of the phone scams reported to local police have been scammers telling people they have warrants for their arrest, or a family member has been arrested, and to send money to prevent any further action. Additional scams we have seen in our area are IRS, NV Energy, and Publisher Clearing House scams, plus at least one involving Social Security payments.

After lengthy and legitimate sounding phone calls, the victims agree to send money orders, or provide bank account information. After the victims have given money to the scammers, the victims contact authorities or family members and discover they have been scammed.

The Reno Police Department is sharing some basic safety tips:

1. Be wary if you are being asked to act immediately. Scammers typically try to push you into action before you have had time to think.

2. The IRS, NV Energy and local law enforcement don't call text or email for money over the phone. You will be contacted in person or by mail.

3. Don't wire money or use a prepaid debit card. Scammers often pressure people into wiring money or using a prepaid debit card. It's like sending cash: once it's gone, you can't trace it.

4. If it sounds too good to be true it normally is.

5. If you won a prize from any legitimate company or business, you do not have to send money to get money.

6. Ask the person on the other end for verification of who they are, and mail you information before agreeing to send any money to them.
Reno Police also want to encourage anyone who has elderly friends or family to discuss these phone scams with them and to advise them to not send any money to these scammers.

Report incidents involving people claiming to be with IRS to the Department of the Treasury at 800-366-4484 or online; click here. Anyone who has been a victim of these phone scams in Reno is asked to file a report with Reno Police.