Humboldt County residents are reminded to remain alert to phone scams, following a recent scam impersonating a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Investigator.

The Sheriff’s Office has received multiple reports of phone scammers claiming to be Investigator Scott Hicks with our agency. The scammers are reportedly using technology to spoof our main phone number, 707-445-7251, and tell the victim that there is a warrant for their arrest for failing to appear in court. The victim is then instructed to meet the scammer in front of the Sheriff’s Office to address the issue.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like the community to know that this is a scam. While law enforcement may contact you regarding a warrant or investigation, we will never demand payment in exchange for dropping a warrant or stopping an investigation. Additionally, no government agency will ask you to mail large sums of cash or pay with gift cards or pre-paid money cards.

Remember these tips to help protect yourself from fraud:

1. Spot imposters

Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity or a company with which you do business. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request – whether it comes as a text, a phone call or an email.

2. Do online searches

Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.

3. Don’t believe your caller ID

Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.

4. Talk to someone

Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.

5. Don’t rely on personal information

Living in the digital age, access to information is easier than ever. Scammers are often able to get their hands on very personal information, providing it to their victims to make their scam look more legitimate. Don’t trust a scammer who is able to provide your personal information. If you followed the above tips and still aren’t sure, call back at a publicly listed number for the organization from which the scammer claims to be or contact your loved one directly.

Sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s scam alerts at ftc.gov/scams.

Learn how to report scams.

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