The Kent County Sheriff's Office is warning residents that law enforcement impersonation scams are circulating in West Michigan.

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Phone scams aren't new - but this is a good reminder the lengths thieves will go to try to get your money and info. We have to always be on the lookout!

The Kent County Sheriff's Office says that in these kinds of scams, fraudulent callers pose as law enforcement officers and threaten to arrest the victim, extort the victim with physical or financial harm, or release sensitive data if the victim doesn't pay up.

The scammers may ask you to withdraw money from the bank or buy a prepaid credit card or gift card from a local store and provide them with the credit card number.

Scammers may spoof or fake their phone numbers, so the call appears to be coming from a legitimate police department, like the Kent County Sheriff’s Office -  and they will tell you there's a warrant out for your arrest.

The Kent County Sheriff's Office reminds us that any legitimate law enforcement officer will not demand cash or gift cards from you.

KSCO also advises to watch out for these common scams:

• A stranger sends you a check and asks you to cash it while keeping some money. This scam is a different variation of the Craig’s List transaction where the buyer/sender “accidentally” overpays and asks you to cash the fraudulent check and send them the amount of the overpayment. Banks will most likely cash the check and not realize the check is forged until several days later. You are then financially responsible for the amount of the bad check.
• A person says they have found a virus on your computer. They ask for remote access to the computer and then hold the computer hostage until a ransom is paid.
• A person contacts you over the phone and claims to be your relative who has been arrested or injured in an accident. They ask you to provide them with a prepaid credit card number for bond money or medical expenses.
• A person claims that your account has been hacked and that your social security number is being placed on hold.

The best ways to avoid getting scammed are:

  • Don't answer calls from phone numbers you don't know.
  • Don't give out any personal information.
  • Don't send money to anyone you do not personally know.
  • If you suspect a scam call, hang up and contact the person they are claiming to be.

If you think you've received a scam call, you can report it to the Michigan Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division here or with the Federal Trade Commission here or by calling 877-382-4357.

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