PSA: Rice University Police Department | March 22, 2019
The Rice University Police Department (RUPD) has received and continues to investigate complaints from members of the Rice community who have been victimized by various types of scams by phone, email and the internet. RUPD would like to remind all Rice students, faculty and staff to beware of potential scams and frauds and know how to best protect yourself. Scammers use a variety of tactics to steal money. We want you to provide you with tips from the Federal Trade Commission to help you avoid becoming a victim.
- Spot imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.
- Do online searches. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like review, complaint or scam. Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like IRS call. You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as sources of scams.
- Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
- Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for services like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance or lining up a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but to collect it you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take your money and disappear.
- Consider how you pay. Credit cards usually provide significant protection against fraud, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money to strangers through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for payments made with reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). The FTC advises that government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.
- Talk to someone. Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.
- Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.
- Be skeptical about free trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.
- Don’t deposit a fraudster’s check and wire money back. Scammers sometimes send victims a bad check, then tell them to deposit it in the bank and wire money back. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.
- Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC. Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox.
Anyone who has been the victim of a scam or fraud should contact RUPD at 713-348-6000 to file a police report.