Ohioans warned about 911 phone scam - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Ohioans warned about 911 phone scam

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

Ohioans are being warned about scam calls that appear to come from the phone number 911.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said on Thursday that his office has received approximately 20 reports of the scam this year in 17 counties, including Mahoning.  Most of the reports were filed this month.

Authorities say that the scam begins when consumers receive a phone call that displays “911” on their caller ID. When the victim answers the call, consumers are told that a warrant will be issued for their arrest or a lawsuit will be filed against them unless they contact the Attorney General's Office immediately using a number provided by the caller. In reality, the calls are not coming from the Ohio Attorney General's Office or from 911 dispatchers.

“This appears to be a phone scam designed to scare consumers into providing money or personal information,” Attorney General DeWine said. “If you receive one of these calls, don't respond to it and don't dial the number the caller provides. Instead, hang up and report the call to my office.”

Although “911” appears on the consumer's caller ID, that number is likely spoofed — meaning a scammer has manipulated the consumer's caller ID to make it seem as if the call is coming from emergency personnel or law enforcement while concealing the true origin of the call.

To protect themselves from phone scams, consumers should:

Be skeptical of the phone number that appears on caller ID. It could be spoofed.

When in doubt, hang up or don't answer a call.

Don't respond to suspicious calls. Even if the call prompts you dial a certain number to avoid arrest or to press a button to “opt out,” don't do it. This could cause you to receive more calls, because it signals that yours is a legitimate phone number.

Never provide money or personal information to someone who calls you unexpectedly and demands payment, even if it appears to be an emergency call or a call from the government.

Don't trust someone who says you have to pay off a debt by using a prepaid card or wire transfer. These are preferred payment methods for scam artists, because once the money is sent, it is difficult to trace or recover.

Consumers who suspect a scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.

When reporting a potential phone scam, consumers should provide as much information as possible, including any phone numbers the caller provides.

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