How to best protect yourself from phone and internet scams

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 8:51 PM EDT
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SYLVANIA, Ohio (WTVG) - Phone and internet scams continue to victimize people in our area, with many of them targeting our senior population.

Sylvania police posted on their Facebook that they’re seeing an increase in scams. They shared that one community member was asked by a scammer to take a huge chunk of cash out of the bank and ship it to California to avoid being arrested. Thankfully, the police were able to get that money back, but not everyone is quite so lucky.

“They prey on their fear,” said Detective Sargent Justin Music of the Sylvania Police Department. “So they tell them they’re going to go to jail, they tell them they’re going shut their electricity off which affects their air conditioning this time of year or heat in the winter, those types of things. So they prey on their fear and then create a sense of urgency and that sense of urgency encourages them to do things immediately that we wouldn’t normally do if we had an opportunity to think about it.”

And police said that seniors are most often targeted.

“They are often isolated so they don’t have someone right next to them to give them guidance or for them to share their concerns with. So by the time they’re victimized, it’s too late. It’s past the point where we’re able to help.”

Many of us receive suspicious calls or emails from strangers, and that includes law enforcement.

“Even as a police officer I receive these scams,” said Sylvania police officer Jerry Barnswell. “What I do is prevention. I get a lot of phone calls every day. If I don’t recognize a phone number and they do not leave me a message I put them on my blocked list so it does not come through again.”

One of the most common scams includes a caller saying they are police or the government and if you don’t send them money, you’ll go to jail. Another common one is someone calls or emails you saying they are from computer security, and they need access to your device.

“Do not click on any links that they send you. Once you click on those links a lot of times it just allowed them access to whatever electronic device you’re currently using. Once they have that access, depending on what you have saved in there, it might be bank passwords, email passwords, they’ve just got access to a whole bunch of things,” said Officer Barnswell.

And the most important thing police want you to know: “The police are never going to call you and tell you if you don’t pay them you’re going to go to jail. We will never do that, the federal government will never do that, the IRS will never do that,” says Detective Sargent Music.

Officer Barnswell said that if anyone in Sylvania has any questions about phone or internet scams, you can call Sylvania police and ask for him. He can provide a group presentation or just chat with you about how to best protect yourself. That number is 419-255-8443.

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