COLUMBUS -- Attorney General Mike DeWine warns Ohioans about scam calls that appear to come from the phone number "911" and instruct consumers to contact the Attorney General's Office to avoid arrest or legal action.
DeWine's office has received approximately 20 reports of the scam in 2015, with most filed this month.
The scam begins when consumers receive a phone call that displays "911" on their caller ID. When they answer 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."
Recent reports of the 911-caller ID scams have come from consumers in Butler, Clinton, Cuyahoga, Erie, Fairfield, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Lake, Lorain, Lucas, Mahoning, Montgomery, Seneca, Stark, Summit, and Union counties, but additional consumers likely have been affected.
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.