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Phone scam links home security, charity

The sales pitch resembled so many solicitation calls that have pestered her over the years. But after hanging up on the voice at the other end of the line, Lynn Calhoun felt she had become a burglary target.

The phone call came on Tuesday evening. It was a man claiming to work for a home security firm. He promised that if she would sit through a presentation, his company would donate &

36;75 to the Children's Miracle Network, a Salt Lake City-based chain of children's hospitals.

Calhoun is not sure how he knew her phone number and address. She and her husband had moved to the Gold Hill area recently and are not listed in the phone book.

Near the end of their brief conversation, the man asked her if her home was equipped with a security system.

I then started to feel uncomfortable, Calhoun said. I told him I didn't feel comfortable talking about this over the phone and hung up.

— Calhoun feels that she gave far too much away to the stranger. She thinks he could glean from her last statement that her home was not equipped with a security system ' which is something she is now looking to remedy.

We're actually starting to check into home security because we feel vulnerable, she said.

Children's Miracle Network spokesperson Brooke Adams said her organization doesn't practice phone solicitation.

And we certainly don't have any association with security systems, Adams added.

The Calhouns believe the caller intended to burglarize their home. She was shocked at how professional the stranger sounded over the phone.

I was impressed when he mentioned the Children's Miracle Network, she said. I mean, everybody knows them.

Medford police Sgt. Brett Johnson has investigated all manner of phone scams. And though he hasn't heard of one resembling what Calhoun experienced, he is not surprised by the suspect's audacity.

We're seeing all kinds of cases, he said. Usually, people smell a rat and call us.

Johnson said the digital information age has made it easier for scam artists to attain personal information. Calhoun may never know how her phone address and phone number fell into the wrong hands.

There's a million ways you can get this information, he said. With the Internet, there's unlimited opportunities.

Johnson said most phone scam suspects seek to siphon money from their victims without actually coming into contact with them or their property. They usually want their prey to hand over personal information such as bank account and credit card numbers.

Johnson said his best advice is to refuse any charity that solicits over the phone.

You know who you want to donate to, he said. You should seek them out.

The Calhouns are left wondering if they will return home someday to find their home burglarized.

It kind of shook us up, Calhoun said. I'm not sleeping well at night now.

Johnson said anyone who has experienced suspicious calls similar to the one the Calhouns experienced should call Medford police at 541-770-4783.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail Phone scam links home security, charity"cconrad@mailtribune.com.