The Akron Police Department is warning of two potential scams that could catch people off guard.
One concerns a flier being put in mailboxes in West Akron offering painting of addresses on curbs.
The city of Akron does not operate a program to do such work, Lt. Rick Edwards said.
The fliers found on mailboxes say emergency responders, including the fire department and EMS, will use the addresses marked on the curb to locate the property in an emergency. “This is simply not true,” Edwards said.
Edwards said while there are often legitimate nonprofit groups that paint addresses on curbs as a fundraiser, any implication that the addresses need to be used by emergency responders is “a scare tactic.”
Emergency responders know where addresses are, and look for the address located somewhere on the home, he said.
Earlier this summer, Bath Township police also warned of a similar flier being put in mailboxes.
Akron police also say someone is calling residents pretending to be an authority about an unpaid speed-camera ticket and threatening a warrant through the city’s municipal court.
Edwards said there have been reports of someone calling from the “Ohio State Recovery Co.”
The caller attempts to obtain credit-card information for unpaid speed-camera tickets through Akron Municipal Court.
“The caller is using a scare tactic to get the victims to pay over the phone using a credit card by saying, ‘If you don’t pay the ticket now with a credit card, an Akron Municipal Court judge will immediately issue an arrest warrant for your arrest,’ ” Edwards said.
Speed-camera tickets in Akron are a civil fine and are not handled through the court or by a judge.
Akron does use speed cameras to issue tickets, but those tickets are sent through the mail and no phone calls are made, Edwards said.
Akron’s speed cameras are only used in school zones, he said.
If you want to verify if you have a ticket or owe money on a fine, you can call a third-party, out-of-town company that handles Akron’s speed-camera tickets. The number for information is 1-866-684-8383.
If you suspect you might have fallen victim to the scam, Edwards said, contact your credit-card company and stop payment, then call your local police to file a report.
A reader said she was the victim of an old scam that still exists: a call came in from an 876 number.
While that number could be mistaken for a toll-free number or a U.S.-based number, the number is actually a foreign-based number, typically from Jamaica.
The callers phoned the 89-year-old Akron woman nine times within one week. She didn’t bite on the scam, but worries that others could become victims.
The callers will tell people that they have won a lottery or a prize. Winners usually only need to send some money to cover the shipping or the taxes.
Some of the scammers also try this via a letter with a cashier’s check. Just deposit the check and send some back to them and “keep” the rest as your winnings. But of course, the joke is on you when the check is deemed counterfeit and you are held responsible for the amount.
There are educational tips available from the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has a consumer website at www.consumer.ftc.gov, full of useful tips and alerts.
You can also sign up for an email alert on scams. Meanwhile:
• Throw away any offer asking you to pay for a prize or a gift. If you are called, hang up. Anything given free is something you shouldn’t have to pay for.
• Don’t enter any foreign lotteries, even for fun. It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or the telephone, and most foreign lottery and sweepstakes solicitations are phony.
• Never agree to deposit a check from someone you don’t know. The check will bounce, and you’ll owe your bank the money you withdrew. By law, banks must make the funds from deposited checks available within a day or two, but it can take weeks to uncover a counterfeit check. It may seem that the check has cleared and that the money is in your account, but you’re responsible for the checks you deposit. If a check turns out to be a fake, you owe the bank the money you withdrew based on that check.
• Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Wiring money is like sending cash; you can’t trace it — and once it’s sent, you can’t get it back.
Fake text scam
Another scam highlighted recently by the FTC is the following:
You get a text message claiming your email account has been hacked. The message asks you to text back in order to reactivate your account. Has your account really been hacked, or is this a scam?
The scammers who sent the message want to take advantage of your computer security concerns in order to get your personal information.
If you’ve received such a text message:
• Don’t text back. Legitimate companies won’t ask you to verify your identity through unsecure channels, such as text or email.
• Don’t click on any links within the message. Links can install malware on your device, and take you to spoof sites to try to get your information.
• Report the message to your cellphone carrier’s spam text reporting number. If you’re an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint or Bell customer, you can forward the text to 7726 (SPAM) for free.
• File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382.4357 or at www.ftc.gov.