Highland Sheriff Warns of Scam Potential

Was one of the presents under your tree this year a bright shiny new electronic device? Perhaps a tablet, or a phone, or a new computer? These modern day digital marvels can bring hours of fun and increased productivity – unfortunately, they can also bring their share of issues as well, with malware, virus and fraud opportunities.

Increasingly, scam artists are using the technique of posing as computer technical support companies in an effort to gain access to your computer and/or your personal information. These can come in the form of official looking e-mails which ask you to click on links, known as “phishing”, or via phone calls from individuals identifying themselves as being connected with Microsoft, or other software companies.

We spoke with Highland County Sheriff Tim Duff about what to do if you receive one of these messages.

“In this case, the best thing I can tell you is, if you did not initiate the phone call, if you did not initiate the e-mail requesting assistance for some type of service, please be wary.

“If you do have a problem with your internet service, I would strongly recommend you contact HTC, or your internet provider yourself. If you’re getting more of these types of calls during the holiday season, my initial thought would be it’s a scam. Holiday season, they are preying on your good wishes, or your good will, or your fear that, “oh my gosh, my internet will go down during the holidays, and the family is visiting.”

“When in doubt, call the office here – law enforcement knows the right questions to ask to differentiate between a valid vendor and someone with less than honorable intentions.

“Please, I would recommend that you stop by the office and pick up of Taking Charge. It’s a little booklet handed out by the Federal Trade Commission. It covers everything, from internet scams, telephone fraud, identity theft – you name it, it is covered in this book with step-by-step instructions on how to prevent and how to react if you believe you have been defrauded or adversely affected in any way.”

Sheriff Duff underscored the need to contact authorities to let them handle the issue by relating that, even though you may suspect a fraud, some of the instances can be authentic.

“And folks, if you do call or stop in, if you bring any information you may have from the possible scam, we can take a look at it, and quite frequently, as I have a document here right now, that the folks thought was a scam. They are from the United States Office of Personnel Management, and they are valid. In this case, if you have had a background investigation done in the last year to 18 months, they are warning you that your personal information could have been misused or obtained under fraudulent purposes. This was done by way of hacking about 9 – 10 months ago, and the potential is there for your information to be out there in space somewhere.

“So again, when in doubt, stop by the office – we can either guide you in the right direction if it is a scam or it is in fact valid.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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