COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Over a 10-day period, 18 people contacted Ohio Homeland Security, claiming someone from the department called, to tell them their identities were stolen.
“We don’t call people to try to get information from them, or to tell them that they’ve been the victim of a crime,” said Ohio Homeland Security Director Brian Quinn.
Quinn said Ohio Homeland Security doesn’t make these kinds of phone calls, and does not investigate identity theft, but is the victim of identity theft, because of a fraudulent, but common tactic, called “spoofing.”
“Someone has taken our phone number at Ohio Homeland Security, and displayed it as their own,” said Quinn.
In this particular case, the caller tried to get the call recipient’s personal information.
“That information would normally include your date of birth or your social security number,” said Quinn. “They’re trying to get you to give up that information, so that they can take it and take money from you. Or, they want to establish potentially an identity, and then get your money.”
The best way to protect yourself, Quinn said, is to be skeptical — even if the number on caller ID appears to come from a legitimate source.
“If Ohio Homeland Security really wants to get ahold of you, we could knock on your door. Law enforcement could knock on your door. But we’re not going to call you to try to get information from you,” said Quinn.
Instead, hang up, look up the agency’s phone number, and call back yourself.
“We need to stop being victims.”
Quinn said that spoofed number makes it difficult for investigators to track down. But if you receive one of these calls, report it to local law enforcement or the Statewide Terrorism Analysis and Crime Center at 1-877-647-4683, so they can make Ohioans aware of these scams.