Police Warning Residents of Phone Scam

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GEAUGA COUNTY -- The next time you answer the phone, be careful of who is on the other end. Authorities are warning of a phone scam sweeping Northeast Ohio.

A Geauga County woman, for example, called the sheriff's department after she received a suspicious call around 10 a.m. Wednesday.

She told police she received the call from a 901 exchange. The caller identified themselves as an investigator and said the woman would be in trouble with the sheriff's office if she didn't give her name and social security number.

The woman luckily didn't give out those details. And before she hung up, the dispatcher dialed the exchange number.

"Yeah ma'am, they hung up on me as soon as I said it was the sheriff's office," the dispatcher told the victim.

Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland said a few other county residents have received similar calls.

"It involves the scam artists, portraying themselves as law enforcement, sheriffs or police departments, where they threaten you with debt collection and arrest if you don't provide an immediate means of payment," he said.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, similar scams have been shut down, but new ones keep popping up.

They believe some of them originate from outside of the U.S. and may have been the result of fake debt collectors getting their hands on information from payday loan customers.

"Never, ever, ever under any circumstances give out financial or personal information over the phone to anyone, unless you've originated the phone call," McClelland said.

McClelland said the woman who called authorities did the right thing. People we spoke to said they would have done the same.

"I probably would report it, definitely report it because it sounds iffy," said Lake County resident Gina Stenger.

"I wouldn't have paid attention, no, I would've known it was a scam immediately. If anybody asks for any information like that, you know better," said Geauga County resident Peggy Elliott.

"I would check into the sheriff's department and ask them about it," said Rick Perkins.