COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Better Call 4 received a message from a central Ohio woman who said she got a call from a number belonging to the Ohio State University Police Department, according to the caller ID.
She answered and spoke with a woman claiming to be Officer Elaine Foster, who gave a badge number and a long, sorted tale about a vehicle in Texas, drugs and money laundering, all in her name. The woman then told the viewer that she would need to provide personal information to resolve the issue.
The viewer said she hung up and called OSUPD herself.
“Back in December, we received a couple of calls from the public who was calling in to report that they believed that they were getting a scam call,” said Satoru Persons, Director of Communications and Security Technology with the university’s Department of Public Safety.
He said this was a scam call known as “spoofing.”
“Spoofing really is when a caller is intentionally falsifying or disguising their information that’s displayed on their caller ID,” Persons said.
In many cases, Persons said, the number that is spoofed is a legitimate number to an agency that people know and trust, like OSUPD.
“Typically, the purpose of that is to try to gather personal information from you,” said Persons.
Persons also said the best way to protect yourself from becoming a victim is to be skeptical and to never give out personal information on the phone. Instead, respond in the same way our viewer did.
“If they seem overly harsh or demanding on the phone, just hang up,” Persons said. “And look up that agency’s number that they’re trying to say they’re representing, and validate that call.”
Persons said spoofed numbers are difficult to track down, but if you receive one, report it to local law enforcement and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, so they can make other Ohioans aware of these scams.
The Better Business Bureau issued an alert about this type of scam and offers helpful information on ways to avoid them.