COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Scams come in many forms, from emails, to text messages, to robocalls.
A Columbus woman contacted Better Call 4 after she received an automated message that claimed to come from the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and Homeland Security. She was concerned the call came from a scammer who was trying to access her personal information.
Better Call 4 reached out to the Franklin County EMA. It turns out the call was not a scam. A legitimate “test” message was inadvertently sent by someone at Columbus Public Health. The cal came from a mass notification system that is overseen by the EMA.
“We make it available to organizations within Franklin County [and] government organizations,” said Franklin County EMA Director Jeff Young.
Young explained the City of Columbus uses the system extensively and primarily for internal notifications. This situation was simply a case of operator error.
“In today’s world, I equate it a little bit to hitting ‘Reply All’ rather than ‘Reply’ to an email,” Young said. “People who weren’t expecting a quarterly test received it and had questions and were not sure of the legitimacy of it.”
There is a way to recognize the difference between an honest error and a scam.
“Many of us have received the proverbial robocall, saying that the Social Security Administration is trying to get ahold of you. That’s the kind of thing that’s pretty easy and pretty transparent to ignore,” said Young. “If it is a little more concerning, it’s directing you to do something you’ve been informed of or just intuitively know is inappropriate, you know: providing banking information. Those are the kinds of things that you should follow up with a trusted source.”
According to the EMA, this is the first time something like this has happened. The appropriate steps were followed and identified this as a test message.
Remember, if you receive a call and you aren’t sure of its origin, never give out your personal information.