The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 18, 2013

Scammer: This is not a scam

Free gift card yours for $6.95

By Joanne Arbogast
The Daily Item

DANVILLE — Residents from Danville to Beavertown are reporting they’ve been receiving “exciting news!” via postcards in their mailboxes.

“We are holding $100 in gift cards for YOU — good at Walmart and Target — your choice!” Just call a toll-free phone number and claim your reward.

Picking a random postcard from a reader, I called the number to find out how much it might cost to “claim the reward.”

A man with a thick accent quickly answered. After confirming my claim number, he said I was receiving this offer “just because you shop at these stores” and that I would receive the free gift card in three or four days. He then assured me — repeatedly — that “you do not have to buy anything” and “There is no catch, no strings” and even said “This is not a scam.”

It’s a scam.

To get the free gift card, all I had to do was pay a one-time activation fee of “only $6.95.”

And how was he to receive this payment? “Just give me your debit or credit card number.”

For one thing, if you bite on this scam and give your “reward claim number” to the stranger on the other end of the phone, you are inadvertently confirming your name and address with that person. That could open you up for more scam attempts down the road.

Secondly, you don’t want to give your debit/credit card information, including number, expiration date and three-digit verification number assuming they will only charge you $6.95, if they charge you at all. Chances are, they will steal all of the information and try to steal from your bank account and/or your credit card company.

Last, but not least, you will never receive a $100 gift card.

These thieves are making a lot of money with this scam. For a minute the scammer, who said he was in Phoenix, answered a couple of questions:

How many people have called to get these cards? “I’ve had 150 today,” he replied. And how many paid the $6.95? “Around 25 already,” he said before saying goodbye and hanging up.

If you received one of these postcards, they have your address. How did they get it? It’s fairly easy. When you  enter a drawing online or in person and provide contact information, there’s always the chance that information might be shared or sold. The best defense is be very careful when filling out sweepstakes forms or prize drawings.

Mail fraud is illegal. For more information on mail fraud, call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at (800) 372-8347 or your local postmaster.


New Berlin Borough and the New Berlin Fire Company received inquiries this past week from people confused about phone calls they have been receiving.

“New Berlin Borough and the New Berlin Fire Company would like residents to be aware that neither New Berlin Borough nor the New Berlin Fire Company is soliciting monetary donations or selling ambulance insurance by phone,” said Rebecca Witmer, secretary treasurer of New Berlin Borough.

“We don’t really know if this is a scam or not. The calls could be legitimate,” she said, but residents, especially seniors, are getting confused. “We just want them to know that no one from the borough — no borough entity — is making these calls. We want people to just be cautious.”

When ambulance dues are collected between December and February, it is done by a mailing from the New Berlin Fire Company.  

If you have questions about any calls you are receiving, contact the Borough of New Berlin at (570) 966-4705 or the New Berlin Fire Company at (570) 966-2552.


Now through August, farm owners in Northumberland County are being alerted to people who will be going farm to farm at the request of the Northumberland County Conservation District.

Conservation districts are being mandated by the state Department of Environmental Protection through the Watershed Implementation Plan to complete these visits. The Northumberland County Conservation District is sending interns to visit as many as possible, if not all, farms in the county.

The purpose of the visits is not for enforcement, but purely for education.

If an intern visits your home, the Northumberland County Conservation District asks that you welcome him or her and review the packet of information they provide.

This Watershed Implementation Plan was required by EPA through the President’s Executive Order of May 12, 2009, regarding the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. If you have any questions or concerns regarding these visits please contact the NCCD office at (570) 495-4665.