Preston County Sheriff's Office warns of phone scams in the area

PRESTON COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV) -- The Preston County Sheriff's Office is warning residents of ongoing phone scams they say are getting worse.

The department says they are seeing more and more of the following scams:

• IRS scam – The caller pretends to be from the IRS and tells the victim that they owe back taxes and will be arrested if they do not purchase iTunes or other gift cards to pay fees.

"The IRS would never contact you by phone, nor would they ask you to pay for back taxes this way," the Sheriff's Office says.

• Publishers Clearinghouse – The caller tells the victim they have won millions of dollars, along with other items such as a house or new car.

"They will tell them that before they can be presented with a check, they must send a certain amount to cover “fees and taxes”. They try to push the victim to make a quick decision by telling them the news media and Publishers Clearinghouse cannot come to your home until the fees are paid. You have to enter their sweepstakes to win," the office says.

• Mega Millions – The victim is told they won the MegaMillions lottery, even if they didn't purchase a ticket (which is the only way to win). The scammer asks the victim to help cover the cost of fees for winning by purchasing gift cards.

• Grandparent scam – The scammer says they are the victim's grandson or granddaughter. When the victim says a grandchild’s name, the scammer will say that is who they are. The scammer tells the victim they are in jail, and need money to be released. The scammer will pressure the victim to provide the money quickly, in an attempt to keep them from contacting other family members.

• Social Security -- The scammer claims to be from Social Security, and tells the victim that their Social Security number has been accessed and their credit has been compromised. The scammer will attempt to get the victim to give them their personal information, including birthdate, bank account numbers and their Social Security number. The scammer tells the victim they can issue a “new” Social Security number.

"As with the IRS, Social Security would never contact you by phone to notify you of any issues. NEVER give out personal information, especially anything that a scammer can use to access your bank accounts and use your identity," the Sheriff's Office says.

If you feel you've been contacted by a scammer, you are asked to contact the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office at 800-368-8808. The Sheriff's Department also advises keeping track of your credit via with credit monitoring agency, and contacting your bank if you think your account was accessed illegally.