Scams: NRPD Chief Craig Yehlik warns residents to be vigilant
The New Richmond Police Department would like to inform the citizens about potential scams that have been targeting residents of New Richmond.
The most recent scam is someone calling local businesses and residents and telling them they are delinquent on their electric bill.
The most recent scammers have been falsely identifying themselves as representatives from Xcel Energy, and have been telling the unsuspecting person that they must pay immediately, or else their electricity will be shut off.
The victim is then told that they can remedy the situation by purchasing gift cards at a local store, calling the “employee” back, and reading them the numbers off the gift card.
By the time the victim has realized they have been scammed, the gift card money has been spent and the victim is out the money.
No legitimate business, to our knowledge, accepts payments via gift cards.
There have also been a lot of Credit Card skimmers hitting the surrounding area.
The New Richmond Police Department has not been made aware of any skimming devices located at any store or gas station in New Richmond. However, many victims of skimmers have been identified in the New Richmond area.
Skimmers are devices that are illegally placed on card readers; these are usually found on ATMs or gas pumps that save all of the credit card information.
The information is retrieved by the thief and used to make fake credit cards, which are then used to purchase merchandise and gift cards, which are more difficult to track.
The third scam we have seen recently is selling items via the internet.
Scammers will indicate they want to purchase your item, and then send you a check for overpayment.
They then contact the seller, inform them they accidentally over paid, and ask you to get a money order or gift card and send it to them for the overpayment.
By the time the victim’s bank realizes the original check is fraudulent, the victim has already sent the money order or provided the suspect with the gift card information.
How can you protect yourself?
Be careful with your debit and credit cards.
Before you slide your card through any card reader, visually inspect the area for a planted device. Also, there is usually a red safety seal on the front of the gas pump so you can visually inspect to see if that has been opened without the owner’s consent.
You can also go into the store and manually swipe your card inside if you have any concerns at the pump or ATM.
Do not give out any personal information, including your credit card and bank account information, to anyone that calls you. Reputable businesses would never call you and demand that you give them that information over the phone.
Another giant red flag is if someone wants you to settle a debt with gift cards or money wire transfer.
There are no businesses to my knowledge that encourage that type of payment.
Lastly, if you sell something on the internet and you receive overpayment from the buyer, ensure the check has cleared your bank (usually no less than 7 to 10 days) before even considering sending any type of refund.
An informed public is a safer public.
If you feel you have been a victim of fraud or identity theft, make sure and report the incident to the law enforcement authority where you live.
Craig Yehlik, Chief of Police