The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station recently shared a list of ways to identify false police calls and ways to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. 

Phone scammers may identify themselves as a police officer or deputy using a legitimate title and name from a law enforcement agency and proceed to tell the caller they have an outstanding warrant, missing jury duty appearance or unpaid tickets.

According to Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Sgt. Escalante, the sheriff’s department does not call for parking citations or in regard to jury duty appearance.

“Any call representing themselves from the sheriff’s department is a scam to begin with,” Escalante said in an interview with The Malibu Times.

According to the social media post, thieves may use a level of intimidation and persistence to steal an amount of money from the caller. Scammers may continue to intimidate by saying they will send a police vehicle if refusing to make a payment.

“Always call your local police station and report what’s happened. The sheriff’s department responds to any call for service,” Escalante said. “A deputy will come out in uniform and assist them with a report when a crime has occurred.”

According to Escalante, law enforcement will not ask for personal or financial information or payments over the phone. Any unpaid tickets must be paid with the proper parking enforcement officials.

Malibu Pacific Church Executive Assistant Wendi Pattillo said she has received scam calls at work and at home, specifically robo calls.

“I try to get as much information as I can and let the caller know that I will be forwarding their information to the police, that usually ends in them hanging up on me,” Pattillo said in an email to The Malibu Times. “If I am at home, I let the answering machine screen the call.”

The phone scammer may also instruct the victim to purchase a green dot card to deposit funds into an account. This prepaid debit card system is available at retail stores including CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aid and Walgreens. 

According to an article written by US News & World Report earlier this year, phone scammers may also pretend they are representing a bank and alerting the customer about fraud in their account and request information.

“As the call progresses, they request bank account numbers, passwords or other sensitive data,” the article said. “Don’t provide these details to anyone calling you—hang up instead.” 

The article stated if a social security number has been compromised, contact the three credit-reporting bureaus of Experian, Equifax and TransUnion to request fraud protections to be placed.

Escalante said personally, he doesn’t respond when he receives scam calls. 

“I just hang up,” he offered.

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