Sheriff's offices warn of scam calls across the Valley

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Once again, local law enforcement is reminding people in the Shenandoah Valley about scams going around.

Sometimes scammers spoof real numbers to add credibility. If you have doubts about the call, hang up and call the law enforcement agency. | Credit: WHSV

Recently, the Rockingham and Augusta County Sheriff's Offices have shared concerns about a similar scam. The caller pretends to be a member of the sheriff's office and tells people they have missed court, have a warrant, or owe a fine and must pay over the phone.

There's also a possibility the number could look like a local number, or even from the sheriff's office itself. Both sheriff's offices said they will never contact people for money over the phone, and if you're unsure, its best to contact them directly and ask.

Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said people should be very careful with these calls because it's difficult to get any money you may lose back.

'A lot of it's done online, electronic means of trying to get money and obtain money by the false pretenses, so they're very hard to prosecute," Hutcheson said. "Once the money is gone, it's usually gone."

Hutcheson said it's difficult for police to tell where scams are coming from and to find the person responsible. Even though they're difficult to prosecute, Hutcheson said they still want to know about them.

"It also helps us to kind of stay abreast of what ploys are being utilized, like this most recent one. There's always going to be a variation," Hutcheson said.

The Winchester Police Department offers the below tips to help avoid falling victim to a telephone scam:

• Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payments.
• Never give out personal or financial information to unsolicited callers, including: account numbers, social security numbers, passwords or other identifying information.
• Never wire money, provide debt or credit card numbers or Green Dot MoneyPak card numbers to someone you do not know.
• If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement or agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request.
• Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t know. With spoofing becoming more common, question the number on the caller ID. Be cautious and verify the person on the other end of the phone.
• Don’t be afraid to tell the caller you need time to think about your decision. Talk with a trusted friend, family member, or call your department.

You can learn more about scams affecting our area here.