Scam Season

Scam Season

Be alert for these scams that increase in spring and summer.

With warmer weather on the way, I wanted to alert you to some common scams that you should be aware of during the upcoming spring and summer months. The Fairfax County Police Department recently sent out a notice to inform residents of driveway paving scams. This scam typically starts with a knock at your door. The fraudster then presents a deal to repave your driveway, seal it, or provide other stone or concrete work. They will then attempt to create a sense of urgency for the homeowner to agree to the work immediately, often without any formal contract. The fraudster will then take a monetary deposit from the homeowner, and will proceed to begin work, but fails to complete it, often leaving the homeowner’s property in worse condition than it started.

So, how can you be sure that the solicitor who comes to your door is legitimate? Fairfax County has ordinances governing how solicitors must conduct themselves. Legitimate and reputable businesses typically abide by these ordinances, especially by obtaining a Fairfax County solicitor’s license, which is a laminated card displaying the solicitor’s photograph, fingerprints, and personal information. When a solicitor knocks on your door to offer a service, be sure to ask to see their soliciting license. If they do not have a valid license, ask them to leave and close your door. Immediately call Fairfax County Police (non-emergency) at 703-691-2131 to report the violation.

What are examples of other commonly reported scams? 

• Fake delivery text messages that claim your U.S. Postal Service, UPS or FedEx delivery has been kept on hold because of an issue with your address, insufficient postage, or nobody was home to receive it. Unless you explicitly sign up for status alerts on a package, you won’t receive a text from USPS. If UPS contacts you regarding a package, the UPS representative will always be able to provide a tracking number which can be further verified by you on their website. FedEx does not request, via unsolicited mail, email, or text, any personal information pertaining to your account credentials or identity.

• Fraudulent bank account texts, robocalls, and emails that aim to obtain victims’ personal banking information

• Unsolicited phone calls during which crooks call and pretend to be a grandchild or other family member who’s been arrested and needs bail money to get out of a nonexistent legal jam. These scams are becoming more sophisticated with artificial intelligence technology that can mimic the voices of people you know.

• Sweepstakes scammers who call or write to say that you’ve won a nonexistent prize, but in order to receive the payout, you must provide the scammer with personal information.

How can you discern between legitimate and illegitimate messages? Many of these types of messages have misspellings or awkward grammar, and request payments and seemingly unnecessary information. Never click on any link unless you can verify that it’s legitimate. Be wary of a message or caller insisting that you take any immediate action. A good rule of thumb is to go directly to the source. If you’re concerned that there might be a problem with a package you’re receiving or have sent, contact the post office or company directly. Contact your bank directly in a way you know to be legitimate, either online or by calling the phone number on your statement or debit card. 

The General Assembly took action this session to crack down on fraud and scams, especially those targeting seniors. Del. Maldonado and Sen. Favola introduced legislation that I supported which permits financial institutions to allow an elderly or vulnerable adult to submit and periodically update a list of trusted persons who may be contacted in the case of the suspected financial exploitation of the adult, and permits financial institutions to conduct a training to instruct its staff on how to identify and report the suspected financial exploitation of an elderly or vulnerable adult.

If you have been a victim of a financial crime, please contact the Fairfax County Police Department by filing a report through the Financial Crimes Online Reporting (FiCOR) website or call 703-691-2131. Additionally, if you have been a victim of elder fraud, you can call the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-372-8311.

I also invite you to attend the 7th annual Scam Jam event hosted by the AARP and Fairfax County on April 19 from 9 am to 12 pm at the Fairfax County Government Center to learn more about how to identify the red flags to spot scams and protect yourself and your family.