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FTC warns about a new phone scam in Greater Cleveland

Posted at 3:37 PM, Nov 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-02 16:43:23-04

Reports of a new scam call are coming from residents all over Greater Cleveland - and they say the scammers are threatening to arrest you.

"Once this has expired you will be taken into custody by the local cops, as there are four serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment," one robocall says. "We request you get back to us, so we can discuss this case, before discussing legal action to be taken against you."

News 5 brought it to the Federal Trade Commission's Regional Director John Steiger. 

"They gave 24 hours, they're creating a sense of urgency. They know that people make poor decisions when they feel rushed," Steiger said after listening to the call.

Steiger explained that these days, scammers aren't always looking for what you'd think.

"It used to be that the telemarketers were calling to get money, they would do whatever they needed to do in order to get you to send them money. Nowadays, as a lot of us know, information can be sold," he said. 

In fact, it turns out robocallers can get a lot from a little.

"Even when you just answer the phone, you're giving them some information. You're giving them information that this is a working number. They can take that and sell that. The more information you give them in that call, the more money they can get," Steiger explained. 

Some of these calls going around Greater Cleveland have duped the Westlake Police Department phone number, and other police departments numbers, so it looks like a local department is calling your phone.

"That's not gonna happen! That's not the way a legitimate police department will work," Steiger warned. 

The advice the FTC is giving now is different than what you may have heard in the past, or back when you put your number on the federal "Do Not Call" list.

"Do not answer the phone. If it's someone important, they can leave a message, and you can decide if you're going to call back," he said.

The FTC has a database of all of these numbers that they're adding to and publishing daily, which is a good resource if you're concerned about a missed call. You can find more information and how to file a complaint on a scam number on the FTC's website.