“Dad,” my daughter told me, “the Austin Police Department just called me and said they were going to arrest me! They tried to ‘Mirandize’ me over the phone, if you can believe that!”
“What?” I spluttered, completely caught off-guard. I’d been in a meeting discussing creation of data files when the emergency text messages from my wife and daughter had arrived. I couldn’t imagine what my daughter might have done to merit police attention–she’s a student at a Texas university, hasn’t been in Austin, Texas for over a year, and law-abiding.
After several frantic moments–“Don’t panic! Stay cool!” I advised my desire to “Be Dad and Take care of everything!”–which involved conversations with my wife and an attorney, we decided this had to be a scam.
What was amazing was the scammer’s ability to call from a phone that reflect the Austin Police Department. And, this is a scam:
The Austin Police Department has received a number of reports from citizens who have received phone calls from people claiming to be from Austin Energy, the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the Travis County Attorney’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service or other similar agencies. The callers try to convince citizens that they owe money or are entitled to money, then ask them to purchase pre-paid bank cards at local stores. The callers then ask the victims to call them back and provide the bank card information, including PIN numbers.
The City of Austin or any other legitimate agency or business will never ask for credit card or pre-paid card information over the telephone. City of Austin personnel and/or Austin Energy contract personnel do not collect payments in person or at your home/business for City of Austin services. This applies to any City of Austin employee, including those with Austin Energy, Austin Water, Austin Resource Recovery or any other city department. In addition, city employees wear identifiable badges.
Residents who receive calls from, or are approached by, people demanding payment for utilities, should contact the City of Austin Customer Service Center at 512-494-4900.
If you have been a victim of this scam or receive a similar call, please call
3-1-1 to file a police report. (Source: Austin Police department)
The actions my daughter took included filing a police report with campus police, as well as calling the Texas Attorney General’s office.
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