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Officials warn of ongoing phone scam

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office wants residents to be aware that a confirmed pre-paid credit card phone scam has been reported in the area in the hopes that no one is taken advantage of while this scam is active.

Sheriff Shannon Oliver said an officer was actually able to speak with one of the callers recently who claimed to be giving out cash prizes and when confronted with the facts the caller hung up.

“Apparently the callers of the scams we’ve had reported to us recently are informing the people who answer the phone that he or she has won some type of prize such as a Publisher’s Clearing House prize,” Oliver said.

“The person is then told they will receive their money on a Green Dot prepaid credit card, but they first have to activate a card and put $450 on it. They are then told to call a number back and give them the card number and pin number and then the winnings will then be placed on their card.

“The problem is, the caller now has access to the credit card with the victim’s $450 on it and the caller will take that money and the victim has just lost that money.”

Oliver said it appears the callers of this particular scam are targeting elderly residents but it’s possible that they are making random phone calls as well, so everyone needs to be aware of the scam.

“These types of scams are nothing new, this is just something that has recently taken place on our county so we know it’s happening right now,” Oliver said.

“And this isn’t the only type of scam residents need to be prepared for. Callers may use any number of prepaid or gift card brand names as well as other prizes to lure victims into giving them money or scamming them.”

Oliver said when dealing with an unfamiliar person on the phone, the following tips should be observed:

• You should never have to pay for a “free prize.” If money is being requested, hang up.

• Never give out any personal information such as date of birth, social security number, bank account or credit/debit card numbers or pin numbers.

• A legitimate business, charity, or organization will not ask you for personal information over the phone.

• Always ask for information to be sent to you in writing before donating to any type of charity or organization. Legitimate ones will be glad to do so.

• Remember that something that sounds too good to be true usually is. If you are unsure about any call of this type, simply tell the person, “I’m sorry, I’m not interested,” and hang up.

Oliver said if anyone in the area feels they have been targeted by a phone scam, contact the sheriff’s office at 256-332-8820.