County residents contacted are advised to call authorities immediately.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Columbiana County officials are warning area residents about a scam in which criminals contending to work for the county seek financial and personal information over the telephone.
Two households, one in West Township, the other in Hanover Township, reported being recently contacted by callers seeking Social Security, bank account and credit card numbers, Sheriff Dave Smith said Tuesday.
The information was not provided, but knowledge of the contacts is prompting the county to warn residents not to give out sensitive information over the telephone.
The callers are saying they work with a countywide reappraisal of property values that's now under way.
They promise their potential victims that providing the information they seek will result in lower taxes, Smith explained.
There are no county officials or anyone associated with the county contacting residents by telephone, said county Auditor Nancy Milliken.
A company contracted by the county is doing reappraisals.
But those individuals carry identification, they don't contact people by phone, and, even in person, they wouldn't request sensitive financial information, Milliken said.
One of the two county residents contacted so far said the caller became verbally abusive when the information he sought wasn't relinquished, Smith related.
The caller threatened his potential victim with fines and criminal charges for failing to cooperate with a "government official."
Smith said such tactics are common in telephone scams. "They get pretty mean," he said.
The sheriff urged anyone contacted to refuse to provide information and to call the sheriff's office to report the matter.
Armed with names, Social Security numbers, and bank account and credit card data, thieves can steal quickly, costing victims thousands of dollars, Smith said.