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New phone scam targeting central Minnesota residents

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The callers say they're Dish Network representatives. They offer a new receiver and better service — for free. 

All they need is a credit card number.

The only problem is that it's all fake, part of a new phone scam making the rounds in central Minnesota.

Morrison County Sheriff Shawn Larsen said he's fielded a dozen complaints about the scam in the last few days.

Phone scams are a constant issue for local law enforcement across the country, Larsen said. The Better Business Bureau documented more than 40,000 scams nationwide through its scam-tracker website.

But the holidays are prime scam season, said Blake Derrick, a data specialist for the BBB in Minnesota.

"They are on the rise, and they're always finding new ways to get into people's wallets," Derrick said. "Especially online, through social media. Around the holidays, especially these tend to ramp up."

Scams can be targeted to a specific zip code, and they're generally short-lived. 

When the Dish Network scam becomes too well known in Morrison County, Derrick said, the callers will move on another part of the country and start impersonating local banks or the IRS. 

"Scammers can take a lot of different forms. They can be who they want to be, and some people might believe them," he said. "I think it's kind of an 'on to the next one' mentality."

That makes them hard to track. 

Larsen and his office investigate every local scam report, but they don't usually get very far.

"Ninety-nine percent of these cases are crimes that are occurring overseas," Larsen said. "It's just nearly impossible to track the suspect down."                                                                             The best defense, he said, is to simply not give out personal information over the phone.