Sheriff: Scam calls may use local numbers

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - The Lawrence County Sheriff's Department received several calls Wednesday morning about an insurance scam.

The scammers are using local numbers to make it appear the call is coming from your area.

The main goal is getting your Social Security number and a credit card number.

Sheriff Jody Dotson said the department has seen insurance scams recently, but this is the first to use local numbers.

"They've got you thinking, 'Hey, this is local so it must be legit.' That's why we wanted to get the word out that it's not local and it's not legit," Dotson said.

However, this did not stop some in Lawrence County from picking up the phone.

"The main thing they kept saying is, 'Gotta have an answer right now, gotta have an answer right now,' really being pushy about it. And the main thing they wanted was their Social Security number and credit card number so they could sign them up right quick. That's all they needed," Dotson said.

These residents did not become victims, but it was close.

"Some of them said, 'Let me think about it.' So they jotted the number off their caller ID and so when they called the number back, it was a local Walnut Ridge resident and he didn't know what they were talking about," Dotson said.

These scammers use spoofing programs that disguise their caller ID with a local number they choose at random.

"You can punch in whatever number you want to show up and that shows up on the caller ID," Dotson said. "That can happen to anybody with that system."

It even affected Sheriff Dotson himself.

"Two years ago, the jail got a phone call and it came up as my cell phone number and it was somebody going, 'I need you to let so and so out of jail.' And they were like, 'That don't really sound like the sheriff.'"

Once these officers got ahold of the Sheriff, they knew the caller was not legit.

"So we got to doing some research and found out about this little program that you can use to stick in someone else's phone number," Dotson said.

The department discovered there is many different programs that you can download on your computers and phones.

"Most of them just cost a couple bucks through the app store," Dotson said.

Sheriff Dotson said he asked a local insurance company to weigh in on the scam.

"They said, 'We don't ask you for that kind of information over the phone. When we want to go over a policy with you, we'll have you come in and sit down with you one-on-one. We don't play those kinds of games.'"

Dotson said the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from scams like this is guard your personal information.

If Social Security and credit card numbers get in the wrong hands, Sheriff Dotson said "they can destroy your credit and everything you have worked for."

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