Latrobe police are cautioning residents not to provide personal information over the phone after learning of a rash of scam calls.
Police Chief John Sleasman saidhis department received reports of about two dozen such scams over the preceding week.
According to Sleasman, bogus callers have falsely presented themselves as representing Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration or unemployment offices.
He said victims have not been limited to senior citizens.
Some were bilked out of as much as a few thousand dollars.
“We’ve had an overwhelming amount of scam calls and victims of scams,” Sleasman said. “Unfortunately, people are giving out their information over the phone, and then these folks are filing Social Security claims and unemployment claims under their names.
“Never give your information out over the phone. If anyone calls asking you for it, just hang up on them.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry advises residents to also be wary of unsolicited emails or text messages as potential vehicles for unemployment scams.
To avoid scams, the department says, those receiving or applying for unemployment compensation benefits should ignore:
• Communications related to benefits from someone asking for money;
• Someone who offers to help file for benefits for a fee;
• Anyone claiming to work for Labor & Industry who says they need a fee to complete an application.
The Social Security Administration and Office of the Inspector General offer additional scam-avoidance tips:
• If a caller claiming to represent SSA demands sensitive personal information or payment via gift card or pre-paid debit card or wire transfer, it is a scam;
• If the caller makes threats when you do not comply with their request, it’s a scam;
• Do not use caller ID to verify that a caller is a government employee. Many scam calls “spoof” official government numbers;
• Impostors may use legitimate names and phone numbers of Social Security Administration employees.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .