Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warns about a ripoff involving phony debts

CLEVELAND - The Ohio Attorney General's office has a warning tonight about a scheme that's targeting your wallet. Phone calls are going out to Ohio consumers that appear legitimate, but the AG said they are not.

The caller says he is with the Ohio Attorney General's office or Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and that you owe a debt. What happens next, the AG said is a clear indicator his office is not making the call.

"They yell and scream at them if they don't pay the money they will come after them, but that's not our people," Attorney General Mike DeWine said.

People have fallen for this ripoff that uses a local area code to legitimize it, but it's likely the local phone number that shows up on caller ID is fake. It's called spoofing.

"You feel more comfortable when it's someone local, but they can be in another country and they have figured out how to do that with the technology," DeWine explained.

This scheme is taking a new twist, but it's not new. In 2010, the Five On Your Side consumer team warned you about calls from alleged debt collectors calling to collect on old payday loans. In that case, the callers had a lot of information including the last four digits of your social security number, birthday, and place of employment.

If anyone calls to request you pay up and you don't remember the debt, ask for proof before you pay.

The Federal Trade Commission said this scheme collected $5 million for the bad guys. The government took action against one group in 2012.

The Attorney General now believes another group is at it in Ohio trying to dupe more consumers.

Next week is consumer protection week. If you're interested in learning more to protect your good name and money, there are a number of free events.

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