Beware of apparent telephone hoax - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Beware of apparent telephone hoax

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Verify who a person is before giving personal information over the phone. Verify who a person is before giving personal information over the phone.
FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) -

A woman said she believes someone tried to swindle her out of money. She said the caller claimed to be with the Drug Enforcement Agency with a warrant for her arrest.

Christina Lonzo wants to spread the word in hopes of preventing others from being a victim.

A quick Google search of the number that called Lonzo showed dozens of people who reported similar calls from across the country.

"Your mind starts to race. You try to think, 'Did someone try to use my name? Is this an identity problem or something from long ago or what could this possibly be?'" said Lonzo.

She received one of these calls this week.

"I told him, 'No, I don't know who you are. I have nothing to say to you,' and I hung up," she said.

The man called back, this time leaving an alarming message on her machine.

"It regards federal charges that have been brought against you, and we have a search warrant for your property and an arrest warrant for yourself," the message said.

After further investigation, Lonzo said the caller tells you to send them money in exchange for making the warrants disappear.

She said she didn't send any money and now wants to warn others who may fall victim to this hoax.

"Unfortunately, this will just continue unless people become aware that this is going on this is a scam. If they call you, don't panic - just hang up," said Lonzo.

She said she did report the phone calls to local law enforcement.

Investigators say always err on the side of caution, and verify all the details before releasing any personal information, especially if you get a message like Lonzo received.

Investigators said fake calls like these can come from anywhere and are happening more frequently.

They say if you get one of these calls, don't give out any personal or financial information. Report it to the local police department and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

"We're not going to collect money over the phone from you. We're not going to get your personal information or anything like that. We already have that information, so there's no reason we'd be asking for it," said Cliff Billingsley with Florence Police Department. "We may confirm who you are. It's possible we could let you know we have a warrant for your arrest or that you owe money, but then you would have to come in, in person, to do that. We're not going to take checks or any credit card information over the phone."

Before you give our any personal or financial information over the phone, Billingsley said to take down all the information you can from the caller then hang up and look up a direct number for that department or agency.

He said when you call back, verify all the information on your own.

Investigators say if everything matches up, you are probably safe to make a payment over the phone.

However, they say making payments in person is always the best way to be certain you don't fall victim to scams.

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