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New phone scam circulating

Fake deputy tries to get personal, financial info

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office is warning about a new telephone scam circulating in the area.

According to reports to the sheriff’s office, they have been getting complaints about someone claiming to be “Deputy Brown” with the sheriff’s office.

The fake deputy is asking for Social Security information and people’s financial information, which is not something law enforcement officers ever do, especially over the phone.

“This is a scam!,” Lawrence County sheriff Jeff Lawless posted on Facebook. “The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office does not have a deputy with the last name of Brown. Furthermore, we would not be calling and soliciting this type of information from you. These types of scams are not uncommon and sometimes the scammer will even research the local law-enforcement roster and use actual officer’s names.”

Lawless said that if someone calls and starts asking for personal or financial information, hang up the phone immediately. He also asks people to share that this type of scam is going around.

There is always some type of phone scam going around.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost recently warned about a COVID-19 scam where scammers impersonating distributors, providers or local health departments are claiming to need personal information, such as a Social Security number, to get on a list to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Other scammers could pretend to be able to help consumers jump to the front of the line to get a vaccine, but ask for advanced payment to secure their place in line. These communications could come through email, phone call, postal mail, text message or even through social media accounts.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office recommends several tips to help consumers avoid potential virus and vaccine-related scams:

• Verify any vaccine-related information with legitimate news reports. Double-check any new “too-good-to-be-true” news or claims. You may wish to consider contacting your family doctor, your local health department or the statewide Ohio Department of Health’s COVID-19 call center (1-833-427-5634) to check on issues you are unsure about.

• Look for some of the red flags of a scam, such as being asked to wire money or send a prepaid money card or gift card to a stranger; being pressured to act immediately; or being told to buy a product or service where the company refuses to provide any information in writing. Also look out if you’re asked to keep conversations a secret.

• You likely will not need to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine during this public health emergency. You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine. You can’t pay to get early access to the vaccine.

• No one from a vaccine distribution site or health care payer, like a private insurance company, will call you asking for your Social Security number or your credit card or bank account information to sign you up to get the vaccine.

To keep aware of scams, go to www.ohioprotects.org/learn-about-fraud.