It’s a threat used by scammers.
“People get the calls, think it’s from the police department or the social security administration,” said Lisa Smith, marketing and communications manager for the Better Business Bureau serving middle Tennessee.
The calls claim a loved ones is in jail and needs bond money.
“It could be hundreds of dollars,” Smith said. “It could be thousands of dollars.”
But Smith says don’t fall for it.
“Don’t press any buttons,” she said. “Don’t do anything to make it seem as if you’re interacting on the call.”
In December, Franklin police issued a scam alert after someone spoofed their phone number, using the same phony bond scam.
Smith says they get dozens of calls per week from people who fall for it.
“They give money out and it ends up just being a scam and they’re out the money,” she said. “And their friend or loved one is actually safe and not in any trouble at all.”
Smith says technology makes it easy. Scammers spoof law enforcement or IRS phone numbers using voice over IP.
“You can manipulate any number,” Smith said. “You’re able to put whatever caller ID name you want to put.”
She says the scam usually targets the elderly who sometimes drain their savings for a bogus call.
“People are scared so they do what they’re asked,” Smith said.
Smith suggests letting the call go to voicemail, then reaching out to the police department mentioned in the call.
She says, whatever you do, never send any money.