PETALUMA, Calif. (KRON) — The Petaluma Police Department has received reports that a scammer “spoofing” the police department’s phone number contacted people and asked for payments, according to an Instagram post from PPD on Monday.

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The PPD received reports from multiple community members who said they received a call from someone claiming to be a representative of the Petaluma Police Department. The caller was able to “spoof” the PPD’s legitimate phone number which gained the trust of victims. Spoofing is a ruse used to emulate the identity of another user or device, in this case the suspects spoofed the phone number of the PPD.

The caller asked community members for their personal information, and many of them hung up and contacted PPD. The PPD wants to be clear that it does not call community members to seek payment for outstanding traffic citations, warrants, or unpaid federal or state taxes.

If you live in the Petaluma area and suffered a financial loss due to this scam, you are encouraged to file a report by calling the PPD’s Non-Emergency line at 707-778-4372. The PPD also shared a list of tips on how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of a scam like this.

Tips to help avoid becoming a victim of scams:

  • Never give personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller or email.
  • Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason.
  • Stay private. Regularly update privacy settings for social media sites. Scammers often make their stories more believable by trolling for personal information on Facebook, Twitter, and similar sites.
  • Remember that anyone who has the number on a prepaid card has access to the funds on your card
  • Never wire money, provide debit or credit card numbers to a stranger.