I'm convinced that as soon as the first humans learned to communicate, half of them started trying to scam the others out of pelts and berries. (At least, the ones who couldn't just get them by clubbing others over the head.)

Today, scammers are armed with countless platforms on which to get at us, but the ol' telephone remains a trusty tool of the trade. When confusion and fear don't work to part you with your money, the scammers bank on your patriotism and empathy.

Harker Heights police are warning of a scam they've recently been made aware of in which a caller claims to be collecting on behalf of fallen or seriously injured police and firefighters.

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The numbers these scammers call with vary, but Harker Heights PD know that  856-832-2537 is one of them. Most people I know screen their calls and don't bother with any 800 numbers, but there are older folks, some of whom have mental health ailments, who may not have Caller ID or may not screen their incoming calls.

"We are asking our citizens to please be vigilant against any requests claiming to be supporting law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders while simultaneously asking for your financial information," Harker Heights Police Chief Phillip Gadd said Tuessday. "The Harker Heights Police and the Fire Departments will not solicit money over the phone for any reason."

If you receive a call from someone claiming to represent a charity for first responders, you can, of course, ignore it. However, police would appreciate it if you'd follow up with them and pass along the number and any details you can remember about the call. That can help them inform others of the possible scam and make the numbers public.

If you're interested in donating to causes helping first responders and their families, contact your local police or fire department's non-emergency number and let them know you'd like to give. They can direct you to local organizations.

There are some national organizations you can give to as well. The Gary Sinise Foundation, the National EMS Memorial Foundation, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and the First Responders Children's Foundation are just a few.

Don't let phone scammers take advantage of your willingness to give to great causes.

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