Recently, Meridian resident David Fanning almost became a victim in a growing phone scam. It began around 2:30 p.m. Thursday when his daughter-in-law received a call from someone with what he says was a foreign accent, claiming to be from the IRS. He says the caller stated that the government owed Fanning's daughter-in-law back taxes in between 8 and 35-thousand dollars. What made this so strange?
"My daughter-in law, she's never worked. So, what taxes? She's never paid any!" says Fanning.
Fanning and his wife also talked with the caller. He says the person stated that in order to receive the money he needed a bank account and/or social security number, something which Fanning refused.
"That's obviously what t hey wanted to do was get out in my bank account and see how much money was there and drain it!"
According to officials from the Mississippi attorney general's office that's exactly the motive of such scams. In fact, they tell us that within the last three months they received a growing number of similar complaints.
For example, for the last month or so officials from the AG's office say they have averaged about 10 calls per day from residents reporting similar type scams. Some of the similarities include the caller often claims to be from a government agency, the caller often insist that residents provide important, private information, the caller ask the resident to send money in order to receive money or a prize in return. Finally, in the most recent scam they say the callers have had foreign accents.
As for the differenced: officials with the AG's office say the calls often are from Canada, Australia, Spain, Florida or made with pre-paid phones which makes them even harder to trace.
So, how can a scam artist get your phone number? Officials say it's easy because these numbers are often sold to such companies by legitimate companies which receive your information when you sign up to win things such as sweepstakes or other prizes.
Bottom line, they say they best thing to do is to never give out any important, private information over the phone unless you are positive about who you're giving it to. After all, like the old saying goes.
"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!" says Fanning.
To report a possible scam or find out more information about some of the most prevalent ones you can contact the Mississippi attorney general’s office or Better Business Bureau. Here are the numbers for Mississippi: AG's office at (601) 359-3680, the Better Business Bureau - 1-800-987-8280.