Callers pretending to be cops, IRS officials are often scams

If someone calls you on the phone seeking personal or financial information, is it a scam?

It could be, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The department put out a news release warning residents to be careful if someone calls and suggest they are with the police or government agency and want personal information.

The agency said that since Dec. 1, they have received 55 reports from citizens saying they had been called about a scam. The Sheriff’s Office said many others called with concerns but did not file reports. In almost all cases, the resident said someone pretending to be from a local agency called and threatened arrest if there was no payment.

The Sheriff’s Office warned residents to be wary of calls that:

• Suggested a big prize

• Said a family member had been arrested on a vacation and needed money

• Offered a medical alert in return for cash

• Suggested the potential for arrest

The office said law enforcement agencies do not call demanding payment.

If you have doubts as to whether the person is being truthful, ask him/her what agency they represent, hang up with them and call that agency to verify. The phone numbers on the caller ID are often masked to conceal the actual number they are calling from and may even appear as your phone number.

Orange County officials have not arrested anyone for trying to run a scam, since the calls generally come from outside the county.

For more information or if you’ve been scammed, please call the Orange County Sheriff’s Office at 919.245.2900.

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