Chattanooga police are warning residents of buy site and telephone scams that are making the rounds.

Police say they have recently seen an increase in the number of these scams being reported.

"Unfortunately, these types of scams are very difficult to investigate due to the method of contact and the form of payment demanded from victims," a CPD spokesperson said. "The best defense is to be aware, informed, and to never give personal information to unknown callers."

Buy site scams are where scammers trick people buying and/or selling items online into providing bank account information or giving other people money.

Police have compiled a list of several things buyers and sellers on sites like Amazon, Facebook Marketplace and eBay should look for to protect themselves:

  • Poor grammar and spelling
  • significantly low price for the item(s)
  • Seller is in another state/country
  • Poor or no seller ratings
  • No shipping or returns policies

Chattanooga police advise that you should only use a secure payment method when buying items online.

In addition, CPD says, "[you should] look for a URL starting with 'https' and a closed padlock symbol or use a payment provider."

Phone scams are also causing headaches for consumers.

CPD said the following two types of phone scams are currently making the rounds:

  • Someone calls claiming to be with EPB or other utility stating they'll cut off power/water unless a payment is sent. Callers will also try to trick people into sending them money by threatening arrest and even say a relative is in jail and money is needed in order to be bonded out. The suspects request money by wire, money gram, Western Union, Green Dot cards and most recently Google Play cards.
  • Caller claims to be an agent with the SSA, DEA, or US Marshals. The caller will give a fake badge and/or case number and say they're tasked with investigating the case. The scammer will try to get money and possibly ask for a social security number. The CPD Financial Crimes Unit has received multiple reports involving scams similar to this that also includes payments through Google Play cards.

Police say you should immediately hang up if you get a call you believe could be a scam.

If the scammer claims to be with EPB or another utility, call them directly and check on your account.

"If anyone calls indicating they've kidnapped your dog, grandma, or anything considered alarming and demand money, hang up and call police. If a caller asks for payment with prepaid cards purchased at a retail store, hang up and call police," a CPD spokesperson added.

CPD reminds you to never give any personal information, including giving your name, to unknown callers. 

If you receive a call you believe is a scam, call Chattanooga police at 423-698-2525.