It seems as if we hear about a new scam every day. Thanks to technology and the Internet, it is far easier these days for someone to get you to part with your money, or steal your identity.
Remember – if you thwart a scam artist’s efforts, and they are not successful at stealing your money or your identity, then you successfully avoided being a victim and there is nothing to report to law enforcement. There are links included on this page of where to report scams.
If you HAVE had your money or your identity stolen, you should report the crime to law enforcement. Call your local law enforcement agency (ZPD) can be reached at (813) 780-0050, option 1) and visit the Federal Trade Commission website to report the scam itself.
The IRS scam has many variations, ranging from instances from where callers say the victims owe or are entitled to a huge refund. Some callers will threaten arrest and/or a driver’s license revocation. Sometimes these calls are paired with follow-up calls from people saying they are from the local police department or the state motor vehicle department.
It is important to remember that the IRS never makes phone calls or sends about taxes - they only communicate via U.S. Postal Service.
If you receive one of these calls, the IRS has created a page specific to this scam and are requesting that victims report the incident on the site so they can investigate it. Click here to visit the website.
Social Security Scam
There are a number of scams where individuals posing as Social Security employees call and ask for personal information like your name, Social Security number and bank account information. The caller alleges that we need this information so we can issue you additional funds or rebates or they allege that because of a computer glitch your personal information has been lost.
Another scam used an email that was designed to look like it came from Social Security. It provided information about the annual cost-of-living-adjustment and directed readers to a website designed to look like Social Security’s site so people could “update their information” — valuable information to identity thieves and criminals.
Whatever you do, don’t fall victim to a scam. Don’t give out your personal information.
Social Security and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) take these scams very seriously. They do everything they can to stop the perpetrators and educate the public. To report suspicious activity, please call the OIG Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. (If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the OIG TTY number at 1-866-501-2101.) A Public Fraud Reporting form is also available online at OIG’s website.
In one version of this scam, you get a call and a recorded message that says it’s Amazon. The message says there’s something wrong with your account. It could be a suspicious purchase, a lost package, or an order they can’t fulfill.
In another twist on the scam, you get a recorded message that says there’s been suspicious activity in your Apple iCloud account. In fact, they say your account may have been breached.
In both scenarios, the scammers say you can conveniently press 1 to speak with someone, or they give you a phone number to call. Don’t do either. It’s a scam. They’re trying to steal your personal information, like your account password or your credit card number.
If you get an unexpected call or message about a problem with any of your accounts, hang up.
- Do not press 1 to speak with customer support
- Do not call a phone number they gave you
- Do not give out your personal information
- If you think there may actually be a problem with one of your accounts, contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real.
Facebook Marketplace Sales Scam
This scam involves fake car sales ads posted on Facebook Marketplace. The scammer creates a fake website, such as "motors-sales.com," from which they also create fake email addresses such as "email@example.com." The seller posts a vehicle that they need to sell very quickly, for reasons such as a death in the family or military deployment. Typically the sales price is around $2,000.
The buyer is instructed to purchase eBay gift cards for around $200.00 each, and to call the seller and give the gift card numbers over the phone. The buyer is then promised delivery of the vehicle - which never happens.
- You should NEVER agree to purchase a gift card & give the information to a stranger
- You should NEVER purchase something sight-unseen
- Don't fall for the "sense of urgency" or any attempt to play on your emotions
- When purchasing any sort of vehicle online, ask the seller to meet you at the ZPD station (6118 8th Street) make the transaction
In this scam, an elderly victim gets a call from who they think is their grandchild or child. Typically, the scammer just says, "Grandma?" and when the victim replies back with the family member's name "Is that you, Jimmy?" Now that the scammer has the right name, they go on to tell the victim that they are in jail and need bail money. Some scammers have even been known to send a "lawyer" or "courier" to get the cash. If you have any relatives who have fallen prey to this scam, contact law enforcement immediately.
U.S. Treasury Bond Scam
This scam involves a "salesperson" soliciting victims to purchase U.S. Treasury bonds through them - something anyone can do on their own on the verified and secure Treasury website (www.treasurydirect.gov). The scammer tells the victims that he or she needs their SSNs, copies of their birth certificates, and other personal information. Once the scammer gets all of that, they steal the victims' money and/or identities. If you have any relatives who have fallen prey to this scam, contact law enforcement immediately.
Paver or Home Repair Scam
ZPD has investigated cases involving groups of people, usually men, who travel through neighborhoods and solicit homeowners to do paving or roofing work. Those unsuspecting victims agree to pay a large amount of cash to have a driveway paved, or a roof repaired. The scam artists will do shoddy work (for example, they’ll unload a gravel and dirt mixture onto a driveway) and leave, never to be heard from again.
If you or someone you know has fallen victim to this, please contact local law enforcement immediately. We can be reached at 813-780-0050, option 1.
If someone solicits you to do work, you should always verify their business license through the county or state tax collector, and/or the Better Business Bureau. Doing work without a license and without workman’s comp insurance is against the law.
Computer Tech Support Scam
Some scammers will call you and claim work for Microsoft or another computer company, and try to get you to log into your computer to “fix” the issue you have. This scam involves them tricking you to install malware, or malicious software, that can steal your information and identity. Please visit their website to learn about how to avoid being scammed.
Lottery / Sweepstakes/ Romance Scams
Did you know? The Federal Trade Commission is dedicated to educating the public about scams, and protecting the public from future scams. Please visit their website for more information about the following types of scams:
- Imposter scams (someone posing as a business, family friend, or government agency)
- Prizes, sweepstakes, or lotteries (requests for money or personal information under the pretense of a sweepstakes, gift, prize, or lottery)
- Romance scams (requests for money under the guise of a romantic relationship)
- Counterfeit checks (receipt of a counterfeit check during a transaction)
- The Inspector Attorney General's Office is also committed to going after scammers - call them at 1-800-366-4484.
MY IDENTITY HAS BEEN STOLEN – WHAT DO I DO?
If you are the victim of identity theft, report it here: https://www.identitytheft.gov/.
If you get a call from someone you don’t know who is trying to sell you something you hadn’t planned to buy, say "No thanks." And, if they pressure you about giving up personal information — like your credit card or Social Security number — it’s likely a scam. Hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
How Can I Get Telemarketers To Stop Calling Me?
The federal government's National Do Not Call Registry is a free, easy way to reduce the telemarketing calls you get at home. To register your phone number or to get information about the registry, visit 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register. You will get fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number. Telephone numbers on the registry will only be removed when they are disconnected and reassigned, or when you choose to remove a number from the registry.
If you feel you are the victim of a scam, and you don't see it listed here, please call The Inspector Attorney General at 1-800-366-4484.