Northwest News

There’s another phone scam going around you probably want to be aware of and avoid

Beware, even if the caller ID appears to be official — scammers are disguising their phone numbers as being from the U.S. Marshals office in the Western District of Washington in an effort to trick victims into sending money.

The U.S. Marshals Service warned the public of this most recent scam in a press release Wednesday, July 10.

“We want people to know these calls are scams,” Acting U.S. Marshal Jacob Green said in the release. “The United States Marshals Service will never call the public to request sensitive information for any purpose.”

During the most recent spoof calls, the release said, scammers attempt to collect a fine to prevent an arrest for failing to report for jury duty or other offenses. They then reportedly tell victims to purchase prepaid debit cards, such as Green Dot cards or gift cards, and read the number over the phone so that victims can pay fines and avoid arrest.

Scammers also use many tactics to sound credible, the release said, sometimes providing badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials, federal judges and courthouse addresses.

If you believe you received a scam call, the Marshals Office asks you to contact their local FBI office and file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which tracks information on fraud reports to share data with law enforcement.

Things to remember

The release also included these tips from the Marshals Office:

U.S. Marshals — and other law enforcement agencies — will never ask for account numbers, wire transfers or gift cards for any purpose.

Do not give out personal or financial information to any unknown callers.

Immediately hang up on scam phone calls and report them to the FBI and FTC.

If a scammer provides a court order, authenticate it be calling the court clerk’s office of the U.S. District Court in your area.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.