CREATED Oct. 26, 2012
CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Sophisticated scammers are duping people into giving out their sensitive banking information over the phone in Southwest Florida.
"Somebody who considers themselves to be very careful could very easily fall for this," Detective Sargeant Dana Coston with the Cape Coral Police Department said.
A Cape Coral mom was scammed when a robo-call pretending to be the power company contacted her and got her banking info. Now she wants others to learn from her story.
Four In Your Corner's Colleen Hogan finding out how this could easily happen to you.
The woman called us to let us know she had been scammed by an automated phone call, saying it was someone from LCEC. The robo-call told her she had to pay her bill over the phone or risk her power being shut off.
Not knowing her husband already paid the bill, the woman went ahead and gave her banking information and her driver's license number out over the phone.
"It tells the person who answers the phone that they're delinquent in their power bill payment and they must make a payment," Coston said.
Coston says this type of robo-call is a sophisticated scam.
"It's very convincing to the person who's receiving the call," he said.
Coston says the robo-calls give the option to pay with a credit card or through your checking account, allowing you to make a full or partial payment. By the time you realize it's a scam, it's too late.
Coston says crooks get their hands on advanced technology that uses the internet to place calls, making it tough on law enforcement to catch them.
"If it's not something you are expecting, from a company with which you normally do business, we recommend you contact the company directly," he said.
It's the same advice LCEC spokesperson Karen Ryan gives.
In a statement, a spokesperson says:
"We do make automated payment reminder phone calls but our representatives do not take any credit card or bank account information from customers. The customer did the right thing by contacting LCEC to determine if the call was legitimate."
Ryan says a couple people in Immokalee got the robo-calls as well.
If you get one of these calls, you should report it to authorities. Of course, never give out your banking information or any other sensitive personal information over the phone or online.
Colleen Hogan, reporter