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Common scams

Some tips to help avoid becoming a victim include

  • Get an agreement in writing.
  • Ask for references or get a trusted neighbor/friend/family member’s recommendation.
  • Never pay the full amount for the job until the job is completed.
  • You may also want to check with the Better Business Bureau to see what types of complaints have been made about a company.

Phone Call Scam

Bloomington Police Department have had reports of a scam that goes something like this: you receive a call that tells you your loved one was in an accident, or has been kidnapped and held for ransom, and the person calling will only help them or let them go safely if you wire money to them. Usually the people calling will have enough information about your loved one that it may make you believe it is for real. Fortunately, your loved one most likely has not been kidnapped. Instead, you have become the target of a scam.

If this situation happens to you, remember to ask some basic questions of the caller such as where the accident/kidnapping happened or what car your family member was driving. Try and get the phone number that called you and stay calm. The suspect(s) in this scam often will use your confusion and stress to try to take advantage of you during the call.

The best way to handle this is to first attempt to get in contact with your loved one in question.

This will be the best way to prove that the people behind the call are just scamming you. If you cannot get in contact with them, call the Bloomington Department at 952-563-4900 to file a police report. At no point should you go to an ATM or wire any money. Once you do this, you can't get your money back. 

Below are some tips on how to prevent being scammed and what to do if you receive a call similar to the ones listed above:

What to do if you receive a call

  • Attempt to call your family member to verify if they are all right.
  • Notify your local police immediately if you believe a crime has been committed.
  • Record the telephone number the suspected kidnapper and/or suspected scammer is calling from.
  • Ask specific questions if you are contacted by the person associated with the scam.  If the scammer doesn’t know the answers to your questions, it may prompt the scammer to end the conversation.
  • Do not accept any subsequent calls from the number associated with the scam.
  • Save any text messages and/or photographs the suspected kidnapper and/scammer is calling from.
  • Do not panic: think with a clear head. Provide the proper information to the Bloomington Police Department if you believe a crime was committed (for example: you sent out money to a scammer or you believe the family member was in fact kidnapped) so that we can conduct an investigation.

How to help prevent the scam

  • When family members are going to work, school, and/or out for the day, know their activities. Take note of things such as who they will be with, where they are traveling to, and what their final destination will be.
  • Check to see what privacy information is readily available to the public via the social media sites that you and your family are linked to. Be careful about providing your personal information via social media sites, and only provide your private information to those you know and/or wish to have your information.
  • Constantly update and check your privacy settings on social media profile sites. It is often through social media being public that allows criminals to learn more about you and gain the information they try to use against you.
  • Be aware of something called phone "spoofing," which is when a suspected scammer calls from his/her telephone but has “spoofed” or masked his/her real telephone number with another telephone number that appears as such on your telephone.