The St. George Police Department is warning southern Utah residents about a new scam targeting pet owners.  

When a pet owner loses a pet and posts to places like the St. George Word of Mouth FB page or any other community pages, scammers see it too. Now, scammers are taking advantage of lost pets and emotional owners.  

A post from the St. George Animal Shelter stated that the newest scam tactic is calling those pet owners and telling them they have found their pet but that it is injured and will need medical attention. The scammers ask for money for said medical attention over the phone and also that the pet will not be returned until that money has been sent.  

There have been several reports of this to the St. George Animal Shelter just this week.  

The shelter is very clear that this is not how they handle lost/found pets and that they will never ask for money over the phone. This newest scam tactic is not only looking for money but targeting distressed and emotional southern Utah residents.  

“If you receive a phone call from someone regarding your lost pet and you are unsure if it is legitimate, please HANG UP, and call us directly at 435-627-4350 to verify if we have found your missing pet. DO NOT give money over the phone to anyone claiming that they have found your lost pet.”—St. George Animal Shelter 

The Federal Communications Commission(FCC) has some ways to help you avoid being scammed.  

  • Don't answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately. 
  • You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be aware: Caller ID showing a "local" number does not necessarily mean it is a local caller. 
  • If you answer the phone and the caller - or a recording - asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets. 
  • Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with "Yes." 
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious. 
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company's or government agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment. 
  • Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately. 
  • If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password. 
  • Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools they may have and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device to block unwanted calls. 
  • If you use robocall-blocking technology already, it often helps to let that company know which numbers are producing unwanted calls so they can help block those calls for you and others. 
  • To block telemarketing calls, register your number on the Do Not Call List. Legitimate telemarketers consult the list to avoid calling both landline and wireless phone numbers on the list. 


8 Things To Do If You Paid A Phone Scammer

Merciless phone scammers are targeting unaware folks with schemes involving pleas for charity, car warranties, unpaid traffic tickets, you name it. The Federal Trade Commission says, "Scammers often ask you to pay in ways that make it tough to get your money back. No matter what payment method you used to pay, the sooner you act, the better."
If you have paid one of these scammers and then realize you have been scammed, here are 8 tips from the Federal Trade Commission, on what to do if you have paid a scammer.

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