Paula Wells quickly realized she was being scammed. After purchasing a Ford F350 from a Sacramento-area Ford dealership, Wells, of Lodi, received a letter in the mail, saying her warranty was about to expire.
"It looked very official," she said.
The letter included the amount of her truck payment, how many payments she's made and the amount of the payoff.
But the notice wasn't from the Ford dealership. Addressed from a separate company, the letter came with an advertisement for a special offer to extend the warranty of her vehicle.
The letter also listed a phone number to call in order to opt-out of pre-certification calls.
So she called the toll-free number, and a prerecorded message asked for her Social Security number.
Wells hung up.
Sgt. Mike Oden of the Lodi Police Department says incidents like this are common in most cities, including Lodi.
He adds that people should never give away personal information over the phone, which includes their full name, date of birth, address, driver license number and Social Security number.
Oden also says to watch out for offers involving a lot of money.
"If it's too good to be true, it probably is," he said.
Scams often come from out of the state or the country and are received by mail or the Internet. Scammers typically target the elderly and can aquire personal information by burglarizing a house or car, Oden said.
Wells quickly detected she was being scammed. Many people, though, do not.
Wells recommends paying close attention to any requests seeking money or personal information, because it could be a scam.
"Make sure you listen and don't give any information out at all," she said. "When you know it's not something that you've asked for, read it with a grain of salt."
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.