LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Police Department Hollenback Division is alerting the public of reports of fraud taking place to its community members. According to the LAPD Blog, the caller(s) are claiming the member’s social security number has been stolen and a payment must be made via Bitcoin to avoid further fraud/theft.

The callers inform the victims that they are from the LAPD and give out an 800-toll free number they can verify the number by searching on the internet and it will show it’s a Police Department toll free phone number. Victims are being asked to empty their bank accounts to stop the fraud and theft, but police are warning this is a SCAM and ploy to empty the savings of the victims.

Authorities are alerting the public if they receive a call from anyone alerting them of a Social Security theft, to contact their local LAPD station and respective bank.

Tips to avoid getting scammed:

-Get it in writing. Verbal promises don’t count. It doesn’t matter what the salesperson tells you, the only thing that matters is what’s written down. Most sales contracts specifically state that verbal promises are not binding. Read, understand, and agree to the terms before you sign any contract.

-Never send money to someone you have never met face-to-face. Don’t do it if they ask you to use wire transfer, a prepaid debit card, or a gift card (those cannot be traced and are as good as cash).

-Don’t believe everything seen. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals, fonts, and other details. Just because a website or email looks official does not mean that it is. Even Caller ID can be faked.

-Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s over the phone, by email, on social media, even at your front door. This includes banking and credit card information, birthdate, and Social Security/Social Insurance numbers.

-Don’t be pressured to act immediately. Scammers try to make you think something is scarce or a limited time offer. They want to push individuals into action before they have time to think or to discuss it with a family member, friend, or financial advisor. High-pressure sales tactics are used by some legitimate businesses, but it’s never a good idea to make an important decision quickly.

Whenever possible, work with local businesses that have proper identification, licensing, and insurance, and contractors who will be coming into the home or anyone dealing with money or sensitive information. Check them out at bbb.org to see what other consumers have experienced.

Be cautious about what information is share on social media and consider only connecting with people individuals that you know. Be sure to use privacy settings on all social media and online accounts. Imposters often get information about their targets from their online interactions, and can make themselves sound like a friend or family member.

Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams. Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox.