You’ve heard this from us before. You’ll probably hear it from us again, because the problem doesn’t seem to be going away despite our and others’ efforts to call attention to it.

We’ll put the bottom line at the top. If you get a telephone call from someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI or another federal, state or local government or law enforcement agency — or from anyone calling for any reason who you don’t recognize with metaphysical certitude — demanding that you send money to prevent dire consequences to you or a family member, or provide personal information like your Social Security number and bank account or credit card information, hang up.

Of course we’re not going to criticize you for tossing in a few choice comments before doing so — make sure the kids aren’t around if you get extra salty — but the best thing to do is just hang up and go about your business.

The latest attempt at this scam locally was reported last week on the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office criminal investigation division’s Facebook page. Someone claiming to be from the division has been calling county residents seeking money.

We hope nobody has gotten bitten; we hope anyone who’s received such a call has abided by the investigators’ request to report it. (The number is 256-549-5404.)

Here’s the deal: If the cops have a warrant for you, they’re going to come out in a car with a siren on top, place you in handcuffs, stick you in the back seat and take you to jail. No one is going to touch bases with you by phone first or give you the chance to get out of the situation with a cash card.

The Facebook post didn’t specify what the monetary requests were for — typically the claim with faux law enforcement is unpaid fines — but no one is going to contact you, especially after business hours, about making restitution for such debts over the phone with a cash card (it’s strange how that difficult-to-trace payment method is common with scammers).

We know why people, especially the elderly, fall victim to such nefariousness. We’ve noted in previous lectures on this subject that especially in the South, people immediately gravitate toward politeness when the phone rings, and assuming the good in callers until shown otherwise. They panic and lose their cool when someone starts yapping about sending them to jail. They put too much trust into Caller ID, which has become practically useless in these situations because scammers have figured out how to spoof numbers.

The folks involved in such schemes could be halfway across the planet and probably cast out hundreds of these lines each day, knowing that they’ll get a few profitable bites.

No one can keep that from happening except you.

Our lectures and law enforcement’s admonitions are reactive, after the fact.

It’s up to you to protect yourself in real time.

Just hang up.

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