LA PLATA, Md. - Detectives in the Charles County Sheriffs Offices Financial Crimes Unit are warning local businesses of a possible theft scheme.
Recently, a local building supply company received several phone calls through the AT&T relay service. The service is used to assist deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired individuals with making telephone calls. During the calls, the caller placed a large order, provided credit card information and then provided a New York shipping address. The clerk who received the calls found the orders suspicious and the Charles County Sheriffs Office was called to investigate. Although the credit card numbers had not been reported stolen, the owners of the credit cards had not placed the orders and their addresses did not match the shipping address the caller provided. It appears the victims were unaware their credit card information had been compromised.
The Sheriffs Office is encouraging businesses who receive similar calls to verify the purchases with the credit card company. Legitimate purchases may be made through the relay service, however, unusually large orders and unusual shipping addresses are suspicious, especially when multiple orders are placed.
Although the individuals involved in this scheme attempt to conceal their identity by using the relay service, the Sheriffs Office also reminds businesses that suspicious calls made without the relay service should also be investigated. If an order appears suspicious, businesses are strongly urged to contact the credit card companies to have the order verified.
The Sheriff Office also encourages citizens to be vigilant about their credit. Check credit card and bank statements regularly and thoroughly, and take advantage of Marylands law that allows citizens to obtain one free credit report from the credit bureaus each year. Contact Equifax, Experian or TransUnion for more information.
If you believe you are the victim of identity theft or if you believe someone is trying to make a fraudulent purchase through your business, call your local Sheriffs Office. In Charles County, call 301-932-2222 in La Plata, 301-743-2222 in Indian Head or 301-932-7777 in Waldorf. In St. Mary's, call 301-475-8008. In Calvert, call 410-535-2800 or 301-855-1194.