(Source: By Cody Stark, The Huntsville Item, Texas (MCT) HUNTSVILLE — It seems like someone is always trying to take advantage of others, and the Huntsville Police Department would like people to be aware of a number of scams that have hit the area.
One of the cons that has been going around recently involves fake debt collectors. Citizens have been targeted by fraudulent collection agencies, which have sent out emails and letters claiming that money is past due on loans. Sometimes these scam artists claim to have documented proof with fake signatures of the unsuspecting victim.
The agencies often offer a cheaper settlement and bully folks into paying for something they do not owe.
“These collection agencies are very persistent and come across as the real deal,” HPD Lieutenant Jim Barnes said. “Do not offer to pay for anything if you have not taken out a loan. If you have any concerns do not hesitate to call the police department.”
There have also been scams reported that have to do with false law enforcement agencies calling to say people have a warrant out for their arrest and it can be taken care of if a certain amount of money is paid.
“That is not how warrants work,” Barnes said. “These people will call and they will not identify which agency they work for. Police do not call you to ask for you to pay for a warrant.
“People have also received calls from strangers claiming to be relatives in jail and needing money to be sent somewhere in order to make bail. If any of these things happen, call us and we will check on it. Do not send money to someone you do not know without checking it out first. We would be more than happy to do it.”
There are also scams going around claiming that people have won a certain amount of money. Fake checks come through the mail and people are asked to deposit it and send a portion back. The problem is that the banks return the checks and the person who cashed it is left owing the total amount to the bank.
“Nobody gives money away for free,” Barnes added. “If you have not signed up for a drawing or something like that, nobody is going to randomly draw your name out of a hat and just give away free money. We have seen some of these fake checks and if you look closely at the signature on it, it is usually one from a dead president. Most people just see a signature that looks real and do not think twice about it.”
Another scam that has not been reported in Huntsville, but is making the rounds in other communities involves construction companies going door to door and offering cheap labor for repairs.
They will do the work, but often there are hidden costs and the bill is a lot more than what was originally told.
“Somebody might show up at your door and tell you your driveway could use repairs and offers to do it at an unbelievable price,” Barnes said. “Then when they are done, they tack on hidden fees. Reputable businesses usually do not go door to door.
“We have a lot of businesses around town that will give you an estimate if you need work done. If someone shows up at your door and will not go away, call us and we will make sure it is legit.”
If anyone has encountered one of these scams or any other suspicious activity they are encouraged to call HPD at (936) 291-5480.
©2012 The Huntsville Item (Huntsville, Texas)
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