JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Beware of a scam that appears to be circulating in our area. A local woman called News4jax this week asking about a call she received from someone who appeared to be contacting her from our news station. She said the call came at 6:30 Tuesday night and that she picked up because she was curious why WJXT-TV would be contacting her.
Once on the line, she said a man told her she had earned a $50 rebate as a ‘thank you’ for paying her electric bills on time. She said the caller told her he noticed she had a $192 credit on her account and asked for her Visa or Mastercard number so he could refund her overpayment.
The woman said she never gives out her credit card number and hung up. She contacted us to find out if it was legitimate, suspecting it was a scam and wanting to alert us.
We called Tom Stephens, President of the Northeast Florida office of the Better Business Bureau, who tracks scams in our area and across the country, he said this is a classic case of spoofing. Spoofing is when a scammer tricks people because they can easily fake the number that appears on a person’s caller ID.
“Spoofing is when someone uses computer technology or telephone technology to either spoof an email address or spoof a telephone so the person they are contacting thinks they are someone else,” explained Stephens. “For example, they are the IRS, thinks they’re the Social Security Administration, thinks they’re JEA, etcetera” he said.
The viewer who received the call, did not want us to identify her, but said somehow the man knew she is 91 years old. While scammers often target the elderly, Stephens said she was likely contacted at random. They are often high- tech organizations that have the ability to call 100,000 people an hour. “So even if they can con 2% of those people, they still make a lot of money,” he explained.
Stephens suggests you never answer a phone call from anyone you do not know or from a business you are not expecting to contact you. The caller can always leave a message and you can decide whether to return the call.
You should know no one from WJXT-TV, News4jax or CW 17 will ever call you asking for any credit card or personal information.