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Palo Alto Police Department
Wednesday November 22nd, 2023 :: 01:56 p.m. PST


Information and Tips on How to Avoid Scams and Fraud

There are all sorts of scams, schemes, and fraud going on every day in communities all across the United States. Palo Alto, unfortunately, is no exception. While Palo Alto remains a very safe city, these sorts of white-collar crimes are prevalent in our community.
Our website has a wealth information on common scams we see here in Palo Alto, many of which begin with phone calls placed by scammers.  Learn more here:
Whether the scammer is posing as a law enforcement officer, a utilities employee, or even a relative allegedly in legal jeopardy, here are four basic rules to stay safe from scammers:

  1. Let calls from unknown numbers go to voicemail.  If you receive a phone call from an unknown number and are not expecting one, let it go to voicemail and then make a determination if the caller is legitimate before you consider returning the call. Get "Caller ID" for your home phone if it is still a traditional wired line.
  2. Never send money to anyone you have not personally met.  Regardless of if they ask nicely or threaten you, never send money to anyone you have not personally met by using gift cards, pre-paid cash/credit cards (e.g. GreenDot MoneyPak cards), money transfer services (e.g. Western Union), or cryptocurrency.
  3. Never send money directly from your bank account to anyone with whom you are not personally familiar.  This could include via wire transfer, ACH, or personal check.
  4. Do not invest in cryptocurrency without prior knowledge. Until or unless you fully understand how cryptocurrency works and where your money is actually going, do not invest in cryptocurrency.
Understand that law enforcement agencies (including the Palo Alto Police Department, the IRS, the U.S. Marshals Service, or others) do not call people and demand money in lieu of arrest.  These calls are always fraudulent.

Again, for more information and specific tips on how to avoid the most frequent types of scams, schemes, and fraud, visit

Palo Alto Police Department
275 Forest Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 650-329-2406

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