Belfast police warn residents to be wary of phone scams asking for personal, financial information

By Ben Holbrook | Feb 03, 2014
Source: File Image

Belfast — Belfast police are warning residents to be aware of a number of scams that attempt to obtain financial information over the phone.

Belfast Police Chief Mike McFadden said with the recent security breach at Target stores across the country during which debit and credit card numbers, as well as personal information such as names, addresses and phone numbers were obtained by hackers.

More recently, McFadden said Michaels Stores Inc., an arts and crafts retailer with locations in Biddeford, Augusta and Scarborough, also may have had its security breached and an undisclosed number of credit cards may have been compromised.

As a result of those security breaches, McFadden said law enforcement officials are now seeing “spin-off” scams where a person is attempting to obtain financial information over the phone.

McFadden noted that banks, credit card companies and other service providers will not call and ask for personal or financial information over the phone. If you do receive a call that asks for personal or financial information, ask to speak to a manager or supervisor and question everything you are being told.

If you are still unsure if the call is legitimate, McFadden recommended you not give out any information and to contact the police if you suspect it may be a scam.

McFadden said one scam that has cropped up in the community involves a call from someone posing as a Central Maine Power representative stating the victim's electricity bill is past due and their power will be shut off.

In order to prevent the power from being shut off, the caller directs the victim to put money on a Green Dot card, which is a prepaid debit card, and then provide the card number to the caller.

“Once the money is gone, it's gone for good,” McFadden said. “We have virtually no way of investigating those cases.”

He stressed that if you receive a call asking for personal or financial information, especially credit or debit card numbers, you should be skeptical of whomever is calling and contact police if you believe you may have been the target of a scam.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Harold Richardson | Feb 03, 2014 16:48

I think the City Council should take a look at our fine police department and decide if they have enough help or not.  I don't think the numbers of personnel have changed in 20 years.  There are a lot of nuisance type crimes taking place that I believe are a result of not having enough cops on the street.  Vandalism such as occured on first night and practically every Fri/Sat night year round is an indication to me that we need more help.  I think the PD is spread too thin and nothing would stop these hooligans quicker than a patrol car going by more often.  My house was broken into a few years ago and just this past week someone got into my car at night and stole things.  The council does a great job but I question the cutting of city services in an attempt to soften the blow of the RSU.  With all the things going on in town I think we need a police department that is not stretched too thin.  BTW-This has nothing to do with all the poo in the parks.  

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Ben Holbrook
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Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.

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