Phone scams continue to proliferate, and on Monday the Iowa Auditor of State’s Office (AOS) reported a new one.
“A concerned citizen notified the AOS Office on Wednesday, November 30, 2022, that they had received a phone call from a person inquiring about their mortgage,” the office said in a news release. “The caller also stated that they knew the concerned citizen’s name, address, and height.”
Scammers often include personal information about the person they’re targeting, even when it doesn’t seem applicable — what does a person’s height have to do with a mortgage? — in order to make themselves sound as if they have access to the sort of personal or confidential sources of information a government agency would in order to seem more convincing.
“The Auditor of State Office will never call you to inquire about your mortgage or personal finances,” Auditor Rob Sand said in the news release.
The AOS statement did not explain what the caller was trying to get from person who contacted the office, but typically such scams involve attempt to information to allow the criminal access to bank accounts or be able to use the victim’s credit cards by claiming to need the information to complete official records or prevent identity theft.
Another common phone scam involves the attempt to get direct payments from individual. The caller claims to a law enforcement officer, tells the person there is an outstanding fine that needs to be paid immediately, instructs them to buy gift cards in the amount of the fine and then provide the gift card information to the caller. The scammer usually tells the person to remain on the phone the entire time or they will be arrested. More recent variations include the scammer telling the person to pay by cash app or crypto currency.
Law enforcement agencies never collect debts over the phone. Any information regarding outstanding fine is sent in writing through the mail.
Sand said his office has informed the Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, and encourages anyone who has received a similar call to also do so. The division can be reached at 515-281-5026 or via email.