Officials in Pasco and Hillsborough county governments have recently put out the word regarding scams involving the government that have been occurring in the area.
Pasco County Clerk & Comptroller Nikki Alvarez-Sowles is warning people about a scam involving jury duty.
It works this way, Alvarez-Sowles said: “An individual is called and they are told that they missed jury duty and there is a fine out for them, and if they don’t pay the fine immediately, then they’ll get arrested.
“The individual is told to go and buy gift cards, scratch off the back of the gift card, read out the number over the phone and then that satisfied their paying of the fine,” the clerk said.
“Also, I’ve heard from my customers that they require them to remain on the phone, while they drive to the store to pick up the cards.
“They obviously must be very good at threats over the phone to get people to do that,” she said. “It must be serious threats over the phone. We would not do that,” the clerk said.
“I just want to state, in public, that my office will never call you to ask you to pay in the form of the cards. That is not a form of payment that we would request from you.
“That is a scam,” she added. “Don’t fall for it.’
Meanwhile, Hillsborough County residents also are being warned to be mindful of text scams.
There are fake text messages circulating that purport to be from Hillsborough County.
“As fraudulent campaigns become more and more sophisticated, residents are urged to use caution when responding to messages claiming they are from Hillsborough County,” a county news release notes.
While text messages and push notifications have become important ways for the county government to share urgent information and offer residents opportunities to provide feedback, there’s also opportunities for scams.
At this time, the county wants residents to know that it is not conducting surveys via texts.
“If you receive a text, delete it and do not click the link,” the county says.
It also notes: Messages from Hillsborough County will always come from 88911 and will be formatted without logos.
Residents who think they have been scammed or taken advantage of by someone pretending to represent the county may visit Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Services online to report the incident, or call the department at 813-635-8316.
Published on Sept. 14.