YORK – York County Sheriff Paul Vrbka is warning about a variety of scams that have begun circulating in other states . . . and he’s concerned about local citizens becoming targets as well.
“We have received information from sheriffs in Florida and other states about these types of scams and we want to get ahead of it, to warn our citizens that they will likely become targets and we don’t want anyone becoming a victim,” Sheriff Vrbka said Friday morning.
He said there are “criminals out there who are trying to take advantage of this coronavirus situation. People have been getting calls in which they are being asked if they want to donate money toward a cure. Do not give those people money.”
Sheriff Vrbka said the cure is being pursued by the federal government and medical agencies – private individuals will not be asked to contribute money toward the research and clinical trials.
“There are also calls being made to people in which they are told they have the ability to donate money toward a fund to help small businesses,” the sheriff continued. “Do not donate money to these types of things as there are plans in place on the government side to help those situations and those people. Basically, do not donate money to any cause unless it is 100 percent reliable.”
He suggests local efforts would be the best way to help – and to call local authorities ahead of time to make sure those are legitimate as well.
And the sheriff says he’s particularly worried about people being contacted about stimulus checks which scammers say are coming from the government. One such scam has already started in which people are told they will receive a $1,000 check in the mail if they give out their social security number and send a payment to expedite the check’s arrival. That is not legitimate, that is not real, Sheriff Vrbka said. “The federal government is not and will not reach out to folks, asking for their social security numbers and ‘down payments’ to hurry the check along.
“This is something we need to be on top of now, before anyone becomes a victim,” Sheriff Vrbka. “It’s really sad that there are people out there, right now, taking advantage of this situation and these times. But it is the reality and we want everyone to be aware of the potential of becoming a victim. Do not give out personal information. Do not give out financial information. Do not donate toward these bogus claims. Watch out for these things. If you have any concerns, please reach out to the sheriff’s department at 402-362-4927 or the police department at 402-363-2640.”
Meanwhile, the Nebraska Public Power District is also warning about scam calls.
“Unfortunately, this is the type of scam that impacts many of our customers periodically and are coming at a time that is difficult for our customers,.” said NPPD Vice-President and Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “Anyone who receives such a call should not let their guard down and should contact our team and law enforcement immediately. Protecting our customers is a top priority, especially during these difficult times for all.”
These predatory individuals state the bill must be paid immediately or the power will be shut off and will recommend several methods of payment. Sometimes the scammer’s caller-identification is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as ‘spoofing’.
To help customers be wary of such scams, NPPD offers the following tips and suggestions:
· NPPD, as a business practice, does not call to ask customers for a credit card number.
· NPPD does not demand payment with a pre-paid card.
· Any customer receiving such a call should not attempt to make payment over the phone using a credit or debit card.
· Write down the call back number or consider asking where the caller is located.
· Contact law enforcement.
· Let NPPD’s Centralized Customer Care Center at 1-877-ASK-NPPD (877-275-6773) know about the call.
· If served electrically by a rural public power district or municipality, customers should contact that organization before providing any type of payment.