Local law enforcement will never call you for donations

OKEECHOBEE — Recently, Okeechobee residents have been receiving phone calls soliciting donations on behalf of the Florida Police and Troopers Association. The caller, who gave his name as Eric Gordon, claims to be from Sebring, and says he is collecting for local law enforcement officers who have been killed or injured in the line of duty.

Sadly we live in a time where social media and technology, in general, has allowed for the criminal entities to use methods to scam others that very high-tech. Let me make it very clear. The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office will never call you directly to ask for donations. Never, no matter who the person is claiming to be, give any personal information over the computer or telephone.

By now everyone has gotten the robo-calls that look like a trusted number, or at times a local number only to receive a recording or pitch to buy something. Aggravating at best is how I would describe it, especially on a business phone like mine. In fact, most of these calls originated in other countries and “mask” themselves as a U.S. based company.

Here’s a safe way to always ensure you are dealing with a real and factual company.
1.) Verify the company — Going online for a fast search of the customer service number or calling 411 and getting the company’s main number. Then, call that number and ask to speak to customer service.
2.) Do not allow threats or intimidation. Law Enforcement Agencies, including the IRS, will never call and threaten you. Factually, the IRS contacts you by registered mail, and I suggest calling their customer service number back in order to confirm any mail received by them.
3.) Never give your credit card, bank card or complete social security number, EVER, over the phone to anyone. Even if they claim you will not receive medicine, money, etc. Remember the company name. Don’t call back numbers they provide. Call back a trusted number.
4.) Collections companies will never ask for payments using gift cards. We are seeing a spike in people asking for gift cards for payment.
5.) Finally, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is. We are seeing numbers rise on those internet sales where you are selling something for $2,500 (as an example) and the person overpays or sends extra money, “for your troubles” or to “hold the item.” It’s one of the most common scams out there. Stay away from it.

If for any reason you do fall prey to a scam or give money over the phone that turns fraudulent, please contact the sheriff’s office and file a report at 863-763-3117. But, precaution is the best virtue and most of these companies actually come from out of the country.

If at any time you would like to make a donation, come to the sheriff’s office administrative side or contact me 863-763-3117, Ext. 5018, and I will come to you if you are not able to come to the office.

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