The Eastern Illinois University Police Department recently warned the campus to be wary of a phone scam going around that “primarily targets college students,” according to their press release sent Friday.
Students have reported being called by someone claiming to be a law enforcement officer, an IRS agent, or FBI agent.
In some cases, the students were then told they were delinquent on student loans or dues, they owed federal or state taxes, were responsible for unpaid traffic or parking tickets, or had an outstanding arrest warrant.
The caller said the students could make a payment through MoneyGram or by a wire transfer to avoid getting in trouble, the press release said.
In some cases, the caller also threatened to arrest the student if they did not pay the money.
According to the press release, “the originating telephone number for some of these calls is displayed as that of an FBI field office, usually Chicago or Springfield.”
The UPD advised students to ask the person for their name, rank, badge number, agency’s name, and a telephone number if they receive a call from someone claiming to be associated with a law enforcement agency.
Students are advised to tell the caller they will call them back in a few minutes.
“A legitimate law enforcement officer should understand the precautions you are taking,” the press release said. “Be vigilant and never give out personal information to callers you don’t know.”
The press release said the best way to handle a caller who is persistent, rude or requests bank account or personal information is to simply hang up.
Lt. Brad Oyer of the Charleston Police Department, said in regards to phone scam calls, it is not a start and stop process.
“It’s a continuation,” Oyer said. “There’s always somebody trying to scam people.”
Oyer said different variations of the scam have been going on.
These include people contacting others claiming to be their grandson or granddaughter, and asking them for money.
The CPD also sent out a press release on Oct. 26th about a phone scam where people pretended to be from the IRS and asked the caller for money by wire transfer.
“The IRS doesn’t contact people by phone,” Oyer said.
Oyer said the police puts up a phone scam alert every few months.
He said people should be aware of who they are talking to on the phone, and should not just accept what the caller is telling them, and ask questions about who they are.
“Be especially suspicious if someone is asking for money,” Oyer said.
Oyer said if someone has been affected by the phone scam they should file a report and let law enforcement know what happened.
“(We will then) take as appropriate action as we can,” Oyer said. “We will make an attempt to find the person responsible.”
Oyer said the people making the scam calls were at times from other parts of the country or even the world.
“Be vigilant,” Oyer said. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]