Holiday season brings out more of the telephone scams and frauds to catch the unwary. Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said, “It’s nationwide, of near epidemic proportions. We’re getting a lot of fraud calls right now. It’s not just in our county, but other counties statewide. It’s all over, all over the state and all over the country.”

Lee said one current quite aggressive fraud attempt is people being threatened with arrest by the police or sheriff’s department if they “don’t pay up right away the X amount of dollars you owe us.”

He noted, “Recently, I had two people come to me, basically being threatened to pay up, or local law enforcement would be coming to their home within minutes. The person is told they have to make a deposit by Western Union to the IRS right away, or authorities will be at your door in a few hours. Others have reported calls claiming to be raising money for the county representing the local “Fraternal Order of Police and Fire.” The sheriff’s department and fire departments don’t raise money in that way. We don’t solicit funds over the phone.”

He added, “The IRS doesn’t work the way callers are claiming either. They are not going to send you an email or phone call, maybe by certified mail, demanding payment. We have also had several calls in reference to family members being held in jail, in the U.S. or somewhere else, or involved in an accident, or calls supposedly from a utility company demanding immediate payment to ward off cancellation of service.” Lee said, “None of the official agencies are going to use Western Union as a means of transferring money back and forth. They are not going to ask for your personal information. They probably already have it anyway, so don’t give that out either by phone or email.”

He advised, “If somebody says Western Union, that’s a big red flag. The utility companies don’t use that method for payment. If you do get such a call, notify your local utility provider, ask them if you have an outstanding balance. If you still have questions call your local law enforcement and report what you have experienced, especially if they want your banking information, or to send money via Western Union. It’s amazing how much fraud is going on right now.”