Police warn residents about phone scams

Cary Ashby • Sep 18, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Police are warning residents of the red flags associated with telephone scams following reports of suspicious phone calls.

Norwalk Police Detective Sgt. Seth Fry said people should be tipped off if callers ask for “personal identifiers” such as date of birth and Social Security numbers; if the callers identify themselves from government agencies; and if they request money. Also, he said don’t give your credit or debit card numbers over the phone, but if it’s a transaction, use a credit card because there is more protection.

“Don’t ever believe what your caller ID is saying because those can be tampered with,” Fry said. “They (government agencies) aren’t going to call you over the phone and ask for personal information.”

Sgt. Seth Miracle, of the New London Police Department, agreed. He said government officials will contact people via mail, not phone.

Miracle recommended residents not answer the phone if it’s from an unknown number. Otherwise, he said the automated, computer-generated calls will continue happening since they have gotten an initial answer.

“There’s no turning back from there,” Miracle said. “The first thing I tell people is not to answer it. … They will keep calling you.

“If somebody wants to reach you bad enough, they will leave you a voice mail. Or they will contact you through the mail, if it’s (a) legal (issue).”

New London police received two recent complaints about scammers who claimed they represented the Social Security Administration. 

On Aug. 29, a North Main Street resident reported receiving a call from someone who requested she call a phone number immediately or her Social Security number would be suspended due to suspicious activity. According to another report from the previous day, a resident got a call from a number claiming they were from the Social Security Administration, stating her benefits would be canceled unless she contacted them.

Police, in both cases, advised the complainants the calls were scams and to ignore them and any future calls.

New London officers also received a complaint Sept. 11 about a scam call from Publishers Clearing House. According to police, the complainant received a call and the person said she won $35 million. She realized it was a scam and terminated the call.

Miracle said another red flag about a phone scam is if there is “any type of money exchange” being requested, such as a payment to claim some winnings.

“You never have to pay money to claim money,” Miracle said. “The caller is not asking for $20; they’re asking for a lot of money.”

In the case of scams, Miracle said New London police will notify the consumer section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and post the incident on Facebook, so it will reach as many people as possible.

On average, village police receive one complaint about phone scams each week. 

“It’s that frequent,” said Miracle, who noted the would-be victims are often older residents who have landlines. “Sometimes they don’t even report it.”

To report a suspected scam, Miracle and Fry said residents should get the caller’s phone number, “any names they used,” how the callers identified themselves and any businesses or superiors the person mentioned during the phone call.

“As much information as you can gather (is helpful),” Miracle said.

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