Clearwater, Florida -- A new hotline run by the Clearwater Police Department will answer resident's questions about potential scams.
From cars that aren't actually for sale to money won but have to supply cash for- the fraud hotline will help residents determine what is a legitimate business and what is a scam.
The number is (727) 562-4424 and the line is staffed weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Callers can leave messages at other times that will be returned.
The number is not designed for people who have suffered actual monetary losses and are the victims of crime. These people should still call (727) 562-4242.
This hotline is meant more as an educational tool to guide people on potential scams.
"When is the last time you won money and had to pay for your winnings?" asks Detective Meg Hasty, who works in the department's economic crimes unit.
The elderly and non-English speaking residents are most prone to such scams because they are more often the targets.
Telephone scams where people pose as banks or other types of financial institutions also are big these days.
Once an identity is stolen, it is used about 30 times. It can take a year to get your credit straightened out once it is compromised.
The bottom line, according to Hasty, is to always be cautious. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.