Scam alert: Cobb cops warn of a new phone fraud with phony caller IDs

Kennesaw police are warning of a new phone scam.

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Kennesaw police are warning of a new phone scam.

Kennesaw police want to make sure the public is aware of a new phone scam that has federal authorities concerned.

The scheme involves a person calling residents and pretending to be a law enforcement officer or bounty hunter telling the residents there’s a warrant for their arrest.

Cops say the scary part of the scam is that the tricksters are manipulating caller IDs to make it appear the call is coming from a local sheriff's office or jail. A similar scam involving morphed called IDs recently affected Georgia EMC customers.

In this latest version, the caller mentions an outstanding warrant for an unpaid debt, missed jury duty or some minor infraction causing a fine. The callers then try to strong-arm people over the phone into wiring payments through Western Union MoneyGram or by getting a prepaid credit card to pay off the alleged debts and fines.

"The Kennesaw Police Department will never ask anyone to pay fines over the phone, especially using pre-paid debit cards," the department said in a recent Facebook post warning folks about the ruse.

According to Kennesaw police, get suspicious if the caller:

• Claims there’s a warrant for your arrest. “Police do not call first. If you really are in trouble with the law, you will know it. The police will knock on your door or you will receive a certified piece of mail informing you of any legal action that's being taken against you. If you do owe a fine, you will not get a 15 -minute notice to pay it over the phone.”

• Is seeking payment on a debt for a loan you don’t know anything about

• Asks you for personal financial or sensitive information

• “Exerts high pressure to try to scare you into paying, such as threatening to have you arrested or to report you to a law enforcement agency”

If you do receive a call that seems questionable:

• Contact your local law enforcement department

• File a complaint at www.IC3.gov

• Ask the caller for their name, company, street address and phone number. If they don’t give you all that, hang up.

• Tell the caller you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written “validation notice”

• If you gave out information about your bank accounts or credit cards, contact the associated banks and credit card companies

• If you have received a legitimate loan and want to make sure you don’t have some outstanding obligation, contact the loan company directly

Police also say that if you have the caller's address, send a letter demanding they stop contacting you and keep a copy for your files. “By law, real debt collectors must stop calling you if you ask them to in writing.”

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Channel 2's Consumer Adviser Clark Howard tells you which generation is most susceptible to being scammed out of money by fake IRS callers.

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