Scammers are targeting residents once more, but the ruse is not a new one.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office recently received a complaint about a person showing up at a residence promising to pave a homeowner’s driveway, according to a recent email from H.L. Nolen, outreach coordinator for the sheriff’s office. After money was exchanged, the driveway was only partially finished, and the person doing the paving was nowhere to be found.

“Ask to see and photograph their business license, check these workers out before agreeing to work and do not pay money until you have proof of who they are,” Nolen warned in the email. “Contact the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office if you have been approached by someone to pave your driveway recently. Especially if they cannot produce a business license for our county.”

The trick is for residents to arm themselves with the knowledge about how to deal with scams to avoid falling victim to them. On its website, the Federal Trade Commission cautions residents to avoid what it refers to as door-to-door scams by not letting anyone into your home unless you already have a prescheduled appointment with that person. The FTC also advises against paying for a job in advance and to be especially leery of contractors who show up on your doorstep with materials left over from a previous job. Also, the FTC says to be cautious of a contractor who asks for a cash-only payment.

Of the more than 1.25 million nationwide scams reported to the FTC in 2019, imposter scams topped the list with more than 512,000 reports.

Some of the more widely reported scams come from those claiming to be government officials. Take, for example, the Social Security Administration scam, in which a caller will threaten that your Social Security number is about to be suspended or that your benefits are going to be withheld.

In a video posted to the FTC website, Monica Vaca, associate director of the FTC’s Division of Consumer Response and Operation, offered advice on not falling victim to scammers.

“The Social Security imposter scam is very widespread right now,” Vaca said. “What these scammers are trying to do is they are trying to induce a state of fear. They’re trying to make you feel very, very panicked.”

Vaca urged people to hang up the phone and talk with someone they trust or to research the topic on the internet.

“If this isn’t happening to you, this is happening to your neighbors,” Vaca said. “So if it does happen to you please talk about it.”

Keep in mind that if someone calls and threatens you or demands that you pay them with a gift card or a wire transfer of money, it’s a scam. Hang up and report it to the FTC by contacting its Consumer Response Center at 1-877-382-4357 and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office at 483-3000 or fcso@franklincountyva.gov.

You can also search the list of scams that have been reported to the FTC by visiting consumer.ftc.gov.



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