Gateway: News

Aggressive phone scams on rise in Gig Harbor, officials say

Increased reports of aggressive phone scams in the Gig Harbor and greater Gig Harbor area have reached police officials over the past several months.

There have been several different types of scams reported.

One involves a phone call from an individual pretending to be a police official — such as a Washington State Patrol trooper, sheriff’s deputy or police officer — claiming that money is owed for a parking ticket and often threatening jail time.

Another common scam is when an individual who says they are a representative from the Internal Revenue Service and claims that there are overdue property taxes.

Gig Harbor Police Chief Kelly Busey said that his department has seen a drastic increase in reports of these types of calls.

“I’m surprised by the proliferation of (the scams) these last couple of months,” Busey said. “We’re really getting hammered with these.”

Busey added that there is very little the police can do about these scam calls because they are often coming from outside of the United States and the numbers are “spoofed,” which is when the incoming phone number is altered by a computer to say the call is coming from wherever the caller wants.

The Washington State Patrol has received many reports of these scams and have issued an official release to combat some of the misinformation that these unknown callers are spreading.

One point the release states is that while many police unions or associations — such as the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association — may call to solicit donations, representatives will never be aggressive in their requests and will not ask for credit card numbers or financial information.

Busey agreed with this statement and offered some of his own advice to help identify phone scams:

▪ No government agency — especially a police officer — would call and threaten an individual for money.

▪ No government agency would ask for bank account numbers over the phone.

▪ No government agency would tell an individual to wire money or purchase gifts cards — a common tactic of these phone scams.

His advice if someone does call with a phone scam is simple: “Just hang up.”

Eventually these those making the scams will realize they’re not working and the calls will stop, he said.

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea