JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An old scam is emerging again this holiday season.
Michael Murphy was a target just this week.
Murphy donates money to charity every holiday, so when his cell phone began ringing this week, he was willing to give.
“The guy sounded legit. Very pleasant. We donate to firefighters and police officers and that's usually how they sound.”
At first, Murphy had every reason to believe the money would stay local.
“It was a 904 number, so I didn’t think much of it.”
But soon, there was a red flag.
“They wanted my credit card number.”
Murphy has seen multiple Action News investigations uncovering thieves trying to to steal your identity and money, so he did some research on the numbers that called him, and then called us with what he found.
“If anyone could let somebody know, I knew you guys could.”
I also traced the numbers to Windstream Communications, also known as Magic Jack. We've previously warned you that this device can be programmed to display almost any area code.
Valerie Norton, Duval County manager of Seniors vs. Crime, said right now there’s a spike in charity thieves targeting locals, and taking advantage of the holidays and recent natural disasters like the tsunami in Japan and tornadoes in the midwest.
“They're really tugging at your heartstrings to get you to give money immediately and over the phone.”
Murphy refused, which upset the caller, and now he's happy he paid attention to the warnings.
“I'm just glad we did some research and took time to look into it.”
Murphy encourages giving this holiday, but security experts say you must research each group first, to make sure you money is really going where you want it to. The Federal Trade Commission suggests using the following resources:
Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance
IRS Search for Tax Exempt Organizations
National Association of State Charity Officials