Scam Calls to Grieving Mainers Claiming to Be Funeral Services
While there's nothing good about scam calls, this one hits a new low, in my opinion, with crooks scanning local obituaries to find the names of grieving survivors.
How Do They Set Up the Con?
Here's how it works. The scammers find surviving family members' names in the public obituaries. They're easy to find online and publicly available, without the need for a newspaper subscription. Once they locate a name, they do a search online for phone numbers. Again, it's often public information, so easy to access. And finally, they note the name of the funeral home handling the final arrangements which is often visible in the obituary.
What's the Hook?
A call is placed to the potential victim and the caller claims to be from the funeral home, using the name of the funeral home listed in the obit. They tell the person that they need payment immediately in order to complete the services. They may say things like the cremation will be canceled if they don't receive some sort of payment. Now imagine that you're the person they're calling. Of course, you want the best for your loved one and would be horrified to think the cremation, burial, or funeral might not happen. So, you pull out your credit card to get it paid. Success for the scammers, who now have your credit card information.
Is There a Way To Protect Ourselves?
East Millinocket Police and the Town of Millinocket advise sharing this with your loved ones so you can all be mindful of this potential scam. Anyone who receives one of these calls is advised to hang up immediately. They say the person should then call the funeral home that they're working with on their loved one's services and let them know about the call they received. And they should use the phone number they know to be correct, and not the one that showed up on their caller ID with the scam call. Although, these scammers are good. The caller ID number just might have been faked, or 'spoofed,' to appear legitimate.
Remember, you should never give your personal and financial information over the phone, especially if you didn't initiate the call.