Scammers target residents of mid-Missouri

If you suspect that a phone call or an email could be part of a scam, the Callaway County Sheriff's Office suggests call law enforcement immediately.

Mid-Missouri law enforcement agencies are warning of an upswing in scams targeting people for their personal information or finances.

Lt. Clay Chism of the Callaway County Sheriffâ??s Office said although many of the scams might be different, the bottom line is the same.

â??We continue to receive a wide array of scams,â?? Chism said. â??But, the common denominator is the same 95% of the time. That is, the caller is trying to get the victimâ??s personal information whether it is their full name, date of birth, social security information or banking account information.â??

Chism said in the long term, he has noticed a dramatic upswing in the prevalence of scams.

As identity-masking computer software and other technology has become more widely available across the globe, so have scams targeting unknowing consumers.

Chism said for 2014, there have been 65 reported scam attempts in Callaway County alone. He said identity theft is one crime theyâ??re seeing more of this year. â??For fraud attempts, the number of reports weâ??ve received is on track with last year,â?? Chism said. â??However, the number of successful fraud attempts already higher than it was last year at this time.â??

The U.S. Postal Service is also warning consumers of an email scam that has taken place in mid-Missouri recently. Cheryl Thompson of the Columbia post office said scammers are targeting people who are shipping or expecting a package in the mail.

â??Thereâ??s an email scam going on where customers are notified their package might have been intercepted or attempted, and they are instructed to open a link on their computer which in turn is actually a virus,â?? Thompson said.

Other indicators of a scam email include:

· The text contains poor grammar or spelling errors.

· The text states that â??immediate action must be takenâ?? and that there are consequences for not doing so.

· The email requests personal information to â??re-confirmâ?? certain information.

· The text from an â??automated message systemâ?? asks consumers to â??click on this link for detailsâ??.

Customers who have questions or wish to report a scam to the postal service should call 1-800-275-8777 or email

Lieutenant Chism said residents who feel threatened by scams or wish to report it to law enforcement should do so immediately.