Scammers Pose as Michigan County Officials Multiple Times

Scammers have been spoofing calls from the Macomb County, Mich., Health Department in order to obtain sensitive information. Similar operations have used the county's name as well in recent months.

by Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press / January 11, 2019
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(TNS) — The Macomb County, Mich., Health Department's name and phone number is being used to try to scam folks.

The department said it has received hundreds of calls from all over Michigan and outside the state during the past week inquiring about the spoof calls.

But the department said the calls were not made by anyone on its staff.

The callers are falsely displaying the department's information on caller IDs and trying to obtain Medicare insurance information and other sensitive information from the public, according to a news release.

Anyone receiving one of these calls is urged not to provide personal or financial information over the phone and to use caution if being pressured for information immediately.

The health department is working with the county's IT department to resolve the matter and has been "assured that no data breach has occurred" and records haven't been accessed. Officials said Thursday that they haven't had reports of anyone turning over the requested information.

Health department officials said they have seen various numbers being used — at least six numbers that have been recorded by consumers — and the scam hasn't been limited to one office site or program.

The senior population has received the majority of the calls, they said, with folks being asked financial information, medication lists and Medicare, Medicaid and other health insurance information.

This isn't the first time people may have been scammed by callers claiming to be from a county department.

In September, the county treasurer issued a warning to county taxpayers of a phone scam involving a caller claiming to represent the county's verification department, which doesn't exist. That caller demanded credit card information to process a payment for unpaid taxes.

In June, the sheriff's office reported that a resident was contacted by phone by someone saying they were with the law enforcement agency and that the resident had an arrest warrant. The number showed up as the sheriff's office main line.

At that time, the sheriff's office said there had been several similar reports of the fraudulent phone calls.

Sheriff's Sgt. Renee Yax said Thursday that people receiving suspicious calls should not release their Social Security number or financial information over the phone.

"If you feel it's not right, look up a number to the company specifically. Ask for documentation, ask for them to send you something," she said, adding that people should also be watching for calls that include scammers saying a family member is in trouble.

Folks receiving a call from someone claiming they represent a company or a government agency should verify the authenticity of the caller by confirming their phone number in the phone book or on the company or agency's website, according to the health department release.

Anyone with questions or concerns regarding the recent scam using the health department name and number can visit health.macombgov.org or call the department at 586-469-5235.

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