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Reports of phone scams have been on the rise in Santa Barbara County during the past several weeks, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The scams include callers posing as sheriff’s deputies and telling people they have a bench warrant for their arrest for missing jury duty, while other callers pose as IRS officials demanding immediate payment of taxes. Another scam involves a caller falsely claiming to have kidnapped a family member of the victim and demanding a ransom payment, according to a sheriff's spokeswoman. 

“We do not want to see any of our residents become a victim of these cowardly scams and urge you to never give your personal or financial information out over the phone,” the spokeswoman said. “If you receive any phone call where you are being asked for money or identifying information, you should immediately hang up and call the Sheriff’s Office or any other law enforcement agency where the caller claims to be calling from to verify the information.”

The spokeswoman added that residents should not rely on caller ID data to determine if a caller is legitimate since the caller ID can easily be faked, and that the Sheriff’s Office does not call residents to notify them of warrants or take payments.

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To report phone scams, call the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-HELP or visit ftc.gov/complaint. For IRS phone scam complaints, call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484, or use the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting webpage at www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml.

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