Scam alert: Fraudsters posing as HCSO authorities

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015
ktrk-AP Photo/Andy Wong

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- If you've received a call or email from the Harris County Sheriff's Office lately, it may have been a scam, authorities say.

Scammers are apparently contacting people, pretending to be law enforcement -- such as a police officer or deputy -- collecting debts. The scammer, according to authorities, uses intimidation to threaten people with jail time if they don't pay up.

The scam has been around for a while, but the Harris County Sheriff's Office is reminding the public that the office does not solicit or collect money for unpaid tickets, fees or any other debts over the phone or via email.

HCSO says the impersonators ask the victim to purchase pre-paid gift cards and provide card information when the impersonator calls back. In most cases, the victim has no knowledge of any debt.

If you receive such a phone call, authorities say it's important to never give any personal information to the caller and make the scammer answer your questions. They say you should always get a call back phone number and never send money to anyone you don't know.

If you feel you have been a victim of such a scam, please contact your local law enforcement agency and the Better Business Bureau.