FLORENCE — Michelle Mason said telephone scams that target the area’s older population are becoming an increasing problem.
“There was a period of time when telephone scams seemed to have slowed down and they weren’t as popular, but they’re back,” said Mason, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama.
She said her office in Huntsville as well as the Florence BBB office routinely receive several calls from residents reporting scams.
“It appears, for whatever reason, the Shoals is a huge target of these scams,” Mason said.
Florence police said they have received numerous complaints involving telephone scams, especially in the north Florence area.
“It seems the people they are targeting are 70 and older,” officer Lee Smith said.
Smith said his shift gets two or three reports of telephone scams each week. He said most of them involve someone telling their victims that they are about to receive money but they must first pay a processing fee.
“In some cases, they’re asking for personal information from these people,” Smith said.
Also, some people have received fake checks after falling victim to a scam.
“These checks are for large amounts of money, and the victims are being told to deposit the check, but they must first send a processing fee to a certain address,” Smith said. “A week later, after the check has been deposited and has time to be processed, it turns out to be worthless. The victims are out the money they send for the processing fee.”
Smith said victims have reported the calls are coming from the 901 area code, which is from Jamaica.
Mason said BBB officials have recently learned the 459 area code also is linked to telephone scams.
“We just want to get the word out that this is happening, and hopefully prevent someone else from becoming a victim of a scam,” Smith said.
Scams can be reported to the BBB through their consumer line at 256-740-8224 or on the BBB of North Alabama Facebook page.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.