Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden is advising consumers to be aware of recent telephone scams.

Attorney General Beau Biden on June 23 alerted Delawareans to the presence of two telephone scams reported recently in the state. The callers appear to be targeting the elderly, but Biden warned that all consumers may be at risk in these frauds.

In the first scam recently reported to the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Unit, consumers receive unsolicited phone calls from individuals who claim to be a member of local law enforcement or federal agent who tells the consumer they have an unpaid parking violation or traffic ticket or owe a tax. Several people have said the callers harass or threaten them with jail or fines in order to obtain personal data and debit/credit card information from them. 

The scammers employ a tactic known as “caller ID spoofing” that falsifies the telephone number and name that appears on the consumer’s caller ID, including using the name of actual police officers, in order to appear legitimate.

Biden said government agencies do not call people to collect fines and that anyone receiving such a call should hang up.

In a separate phone scam, people have received unsolicited calls from persons who claim to represent a computer company such as Microsoft. The scammer claims a damaging virus has been detected on their computer that can be fixed remotely for a small fee. After obtaining the consumer’s credit or debit card information over the phone, the scammer directs them to log into a secure website from their computer in order to initiate the repair.

However, by logging into the site, the scammer remotely infects the consumer’s computer with a virus that collects personal data in order to commit identity fraud, plagues the machine with viruses, and crashes the computer.

Consumers should never provide debit or credit card numbers to unsolicited callers or allow a stranger remote access to their computers, Biden said. Companies generally will contact people by mail if software needs updating and will not ask for credit card information over the phone.