People in Chatham County have been preyed upon by scammers claiming to work for the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office who have used technology to legitimize their claims, WTOC reports.
The method of deception being used involves “spoofing,” which according to the Federal Communications Commission website, involves falsifying information transmitted to a phone or device’s caller ID.
According to WYKZ, people have been spoofing numbers belonging to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, claiming to work with them, and asking that they must pay a fine for infractions like missing jury duty. They have also falsely represented themselves as IRS agents. They stressed in a statement to WYKZ that they do not contact people by phone directing them to put money on an account or take cash to pay any fines.
The scam has hit Beaufort County before according to Capt. Bob Bromage, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, even as recently as this summer. In that instance a scammer told a man that he needed to pay a fine for failing to appear in court by loading money on to four money cards.
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No version of the scam has impacted the area recently, though, according to Bromage.
“No member of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office will ever ask a citizen for payment of a fine over the telephone or otherwise in lieu of being arrested,” said Bromage.
This is far from a localized phenomenon. In fact, according to the FCC people have even been using the method to scam people affected by this summer’s hurricanes with fraudulent offers of flood insurance.
This type of fraud happens with such regularity that there is a law in place to prevent it called the “Truth in Caller ID Act.” Those who violate it are subject to a $10,000 fine for each violation, according to the FCC.
If you suspect you have been a victim of a spoofing scam, or that one was attempted on you, you can file a complaint with the FCC through their website at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.
What you can do if you think you're being spoofed
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company's or government agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request.
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
- The Federal Communitcations Commission