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Robocalls and Phone Scams in Ohio - How to Recognize and Prevent Them

Every state has its own set of scams and robocalls, and being informed of what is currently happening in ours helps us stay alert and more importantly protects ourselves and our loved ones from losing money, time, or their personal information.

We have noticed an increase in phone scam activity in the state of Ohio in 2021 and have decided to provide you with the latest information along with some useful advice on how to battle the issue. 

Let’s start with the latest phone scams

We have collected a few of the latest phone scams targeting people residing in the great state of Ohio. We will make sure you not only find out about the scam but also learn the best way to avoid it and protect yourself. 

1. Someone pretending to be from Ohio Homeland Security

The scam callers try to identify themselves as OHS representatives and convince listeners their private information has been compromised. The Ohio Homeland Security Department is warning residents about spoofed calls from scammers concerning stolen identity claims.

According to the OHS, the calls appear to come from their mainline, (614) 387-6171. But the caller ID has been spoofed, or intentionally falsified to look like it’s an official call, an effort to trick residents. Ohioans have reported the scam callers try to identify themselves as OHS representatives and convince listeners their private information has been compromised.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety oversees OHS and reminds Ohioans they do not “investigate personal identity theft and would not make these kinds of phone calls to Ohio residents.”

“If you receive these calls, don’t fall for this scam,” said Ohio Homeland Security Executive Director Brian Quinn. “Hang up immediately and report it to either your local law enforcement or the Statewide Terrorism Analysis and Crime Center (STACC) at 1-877-647-4683.”

2. Scammers claiming they are from the Ohio Department of Health

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is warning of a phone scam in which callers posing as health department staff are asking for personal information that the department would never seek over the phone. The callers use caller ID spoofing technology to make it appear that they are calling from a credible phone number, including from ODH and at least one Ohio local health department.  

In addition to posing as ODH staff, some callers have said that they are calling on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or a hospital or other health care provider. The callers often have some personal information about the individuals they are calling, such as name, date of birth, address, and the name of the person’s physician. 

ODJFS has received a handful of similar calls, but not nearly the volume experienced by ODH. We are alerting you in case you receive similar calls.

3. Phone scammers impersonating Amazon security

An Ohio sheriff’s office is warning citizens about an ongoing phone scam involving persons impersonating Amazon workers. According to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, the callers claim to be the head of security at Amazon and say that the victim’s account has been hacked.

The callers say the victim must pay a fee, by purchasing gift cards in large amounts to reactivate their Amazon account. The victim is then instructed to call the scammer back with account information for the gift cards.

The sheriff’s office reminds Ohioans not to give any personal or financial information to these callers.

How you can protect yourself from these scams

The simplest and fastest way is to hang up and use the Ohio white pages search to ensure that it is them calling and not a scammer. Just type in the number and discover who is on the other line. Often the numbers that are spoofed are the ones that are for just taking the calls not calling you, so you can easily check on the official website.

But more importantly, remember - no government agency will ask for your personal data or any type of payment via a phone. It needs to come through official channels. 

The simplest protection from robocalls

While the FTC has failed to curtail the calls, they do offer tips that might help lower the volume of calls you received.

1. Put your number on the FTC\'s do not call registry

2. Hang up as soon as you get a robocall and block the number

3. Do not press any numbers during the call because doing so only confirms you have a working number.

The problem is, none of these tips are foolproof. On the other hand, the good news is that the FTC is working with the FCC and state attorneys general across the country to stop the calls, including targeting companies that provide the technology used in robocall operations.

And in case you are receiving calls of this nature from a blocked number the following applies - Text your phone provider to unblock it for a very small fee. In some countries, providers are required to provide calling line identification restriction (CLIR) to all their subscribers. This means that caller ID hiding/withholding is allowed to anyone who activates such an option in their phone or service. For the US, the procedure is as follows if it is a blocked number, you can use*57 or *69 to get the information you need on the caller and especially in the case of *57 to notify the authorities on the situation. So *69 will send the message to your provider that you need to know who is calling you, and you will get the information on the number and the owner quite quickly.

We hope that this helps keep you safe and informed when it comes to phone scams and robocall prevention in the great state of Ohio. 

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