West Virginia University students and their parents are once again being targeted in a telephone scam in that spoofs a legitimate law enforcement phone number to try to trick recipients into handing over personal information. The number may display as the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department or the Charleston Police Department on caller IDs, but it is NOT police who are calling. If you receive such a call DO NOT provide Social Security Numbers, birthdates or any other personal information, including bank or credit card information.
This scam began several weeks ago and is continuing. Sometimes the calls appear to be coming from the Internal Revenue Service, but these are also scams. The IRS does not contact people about unpaid taxes or other problems by telephone.
Victims who have been contacted have falsely been told that warrants have been issued for their arrests, that scholarship funds are in jeopardy or that some other serious consequence will result if personal information is not immediately provided.
Students who receive such a call or see a missed call from one of these law enforcement agencies on their phones are urged to file a report with University Police by telephone only, calling 304-293-COPS (304.293.2677).
You may be asked for the following information:
◦ What name did the person use?
◦ Did they call you by name?
◦ What agency, department, or company did they claim to be with?
◦ What did they accuse you of?
◦ How much money did they want you to pay?
◦ What number shows up in your caller-id?
◦ Did they give you any other numbers to call or websites to visit?
Information Technology Services urges students to be suspicious about all unsolicited electronic communications seeking personal information, including such things as birthdates, SSNs, and usernames and passwords. Personally identifiable information can be used to steal your identity and commit fraud. For tips on protecting yourself, spotting scams and setting up fraud alerts, please visit DefendYourData.wvu.edu.
If you are contacted by someone who claims there is a warrant for your arrest or is claiming to collect a debt that you do not owe, you should:
• Ask the caller for name, company, street address and telephone number.
• Tell the caller that you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written “validation notice.” The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
• Contact local law enforcement agencies if you feel you are in immediate danger.
• If you have already given out information about your bank accounts or credit cards, contact your bank(s) and credit companies.
• Contact the three major credit bureaus and request an alert be put on your file.
• If you have received a legitimate loan and want to verify that you do not have any outstanding obligation, contact the loan company directly.
• File a complaint at http://www.IC3.gov.