Don't Be a Victim: How to Avoid Scams. Video production co-sponsered by the Iowa City Public Library, MidWestOne, and Johnson County Livable Community. (April 2016)

Don't be a victim: how to avoid scams video

Tips from the Iowa City Police Department

According to Iowa City Police Department, the Crime Prevention Office receives numerous calls regarding scams aimed at the elderly, especially those in nursing homes. Financial exploitation is defined by Iowa Statue as "the act or process of taking unfair advantage of an individual or taking assets or resources for your own profit or gain. This includes the use of undue influence, harassment, duress, deception or false representation". The following are examples of current scams in our community:

  • Grandchild in Distress -  You receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild - they even wait to let you say the grandchild's name and continue to build on you thinking they are your grandchild, and stating they are in distress (in jail, stranded, etc.). The person on the other end of the phone gives a distressing story and asks you to wire money immediately to a location.
  • Bank Examiner Scam - You receive a call from a "bank examiner / employee" who needs you to withdraw funds to help catch a stealing employee.
  • Utility Company Scam -  You receive a call claiming they are Mid-American Energy, your cable company or any other utilites you might use, claiming that if you don't immediately pay your outstanding bill they will shut off your utilities.
  • Lotto / Sweepstakes Scam - You receive a phone call, email or letter stating you have just won a foreign lottery. They ask for upfront payment of taxes to be wired before your winnings are deposited into your account.
  • Classifieds Scam - You place an item for sale or lease in the newspaper classifieds or on Craig's List, and receive a call from someone wanting to pay more than you have requested. The person tells you they are going to send you a check for double the amount and requests you send them back a portion, then keep the rest of your troubles.

Tips to help keep you and your finances safe:

  • Never rush into a financial decision. Always take the extra step to verify the request is legitimate prior to sending any money
  • Never give out personal information over the phone. If your financial institution is calling you, they already have your information
  • Report any suspicious phone calls or letters to the police
  • Never pay a fee to collect a winning
  • Say NO!
  • Ask for help!
  • REMEMBER, if it sounds to good to be true, it often is.

For more information from Iowa City Police Department about how to avoid being the victim of a scam
Please contact Crime Prevention Officer at 319-356-5275 or visit for more information about how to avoid being the victim of a scam.


Related Items

  • AARP Scams & Fraud - Find news and facts, learn about scams in your area, sign up for free Watchdog Alerts, and learn how you can help fight fraud.
  • Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division - Informs public about consumer frauds and how to avoid becoming a consumer fraud victim
  • Iowa City Area CrimeStoppers - Submit a tip online or call Crimestoppers hotline at 319-358-TIPS (319-358-8477); offers anonymity and cash rewards to anyone providing information leading to an arrest, thereby making the community a safer place for all who live or work in the area
  • Iowa City Police Department: Preventing Identity Theft - Iowa City Policy Department: Preventing Identity Theft. Adapted from "National Crime Prevention Council" these tips help ensure that you do not become a victim.
  • Iowa Department of Aging - Listing of some organizations to contact for assistance and reporting fraud, identity theft, scams and other issues.
  • Iowa Fraud Fighters - Scams aren't limited to just one type of fraud. And swindlers are targeting more Iowans than you may realize. Find agencies to help and the resources and tips you need.
  • Federal Trade Commission Scam Alerts - Browse scams by topic, learn to recognize warning signs, and sign up to receive news about recent scams.