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Phone scams on the rise locally

Published 1:46pm Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said there has been an increase in reports of phone scams across the county in recent weeks.

Oliver said the scams range from people posing as representatives with Publisher’s Clearing House to people trying to convince county citizens they have won a large prize.

“The phone rings and the caller on the other ends will say, ‘You have won a car and the only thing you have to do to receive the car is send a certain amount of money to this account or this address and you can get your car,’” Oliver said.

“Or someone will call and say they’re from Publisher’s Clearing House and the person they’re calling has won the sweepstakes and can claim their prize after sending in a ‘small’ fee.

“We got at least four calls last week from people who have gotten these kinds of calls and reports have been much higher for this type of thing than they normally are.”

Oliver said he wanted the public to be aware that these kinds of crimes happen close to home and to be on the lookout if they receive a suspicious call.

“One good rule of thumb is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Oliver said.

“Also, you shouldn’t have to pay someone else to receive a prize you have won. That should send up a red flag right there – if someone says you have won something but says you have to pay a fee in order to get it, hang up because it’s more than likely a scam.”

Oliver said a person should never give out any personal information to a person who calls over the phone.

“If a person begins asking for a credit card number, a social security number, or any other personal information, get off the phone immediately,” he said.

“Legitimate companies typically do not ask for this information over the phone. But if you feel the call might be legitimate, ask for the person’s name and their extension number and then call the direct line of the company they claim to represent and ask to speak to that person to verify if they actually work there.”

Oliver said there are probably other people in the county who have received these types of calls who didn’t report them, so the number of people being affected could be higher.

“We have been working on getting a trace for these calls, but it’s difficult because many of these people call from a different country or from a phone that can’t be traced,” Oliver said.

“We’re doing all we can, but we want the public to just be aware that this is going on and to not fall prey to these kinds of scams.”

Oliver said anyone who receives this type of a phone call should report it to the sheriff’s office at 256-332-8820.

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