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Columbia Missourian

Columbia Police Department warns citizens of phone scams

By Brian Ransom
December 4, 2012 | 1:24 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — If someone claiming to be your grandson calls to ask for money, be wary.

The Columbia Police Department sent out a news release Tuesday warning citizens to be cautious when dealing with unsolicited phone calls.

Safety tips regarding unsolicited phone calls

  1. Never send money or give personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
  2. If you call the number back to verify information and a recording picks up that does not state the name of the company, the call was likely a scam.
  3. Make a phone call to verify a relative is sick, stranded, in jail etc. A thirty second phone call can save you money.
  4. Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question. "What guarantee do I have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?"
  5. Be skeptical — Always take your time making a decision. Legitimates companies won't pressure you to make a snap decision.
  6. Take Safety Precautions — Don't pay by credit card, cash or money order.
  7. If something doesn't seem right it's not right.

On Friday, a woman received a call from someone claiming to be her grandson, according to the news release. Her supposed grandson said he was in a Mexico City jail and needed her to transfer money to him.

After the phone call, the woman attempted to contact her grandson, but couldn't reach him. She called the police to report the incident, and the police located him. He was not in Mexico City.

Although the woman did not send any money, the Columbia police want to warn citizens about the risks of transferring money under suspicious circumstances.

Such incidents have previously occurred in Columbia. The police addressed another case of phone scamming this past summer in which a man posing as an Allstate agent asked to talk to grocery-store employees about life insurance.

Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani.