Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, August 17, 2018

Hamilton sheriff and trustee discuss local scams

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond and County Trustee Bill Hullander have declared war on several scams that are being conducted in Hamilton County.

For years, scammers have been using various phone scams to attempt to solicit personal funds from county residents.

Sheriff Hammond says, “Our goal is to protect citizens from fraudulent activity by offering updates and information regarding ongoing scams and to take legal action against those found to be engaging in unfair or deceptive business practices in our community.”

Several scams aimed at soliciting additional bond payments from inmates or requesting money to keep warrants from being taken out for random, miscellaneous charges have routinely resurfaced in Hamilton County.

Each of these scams attempts to get residents to purchase pre-paid GreenDot reloadable cards so money can be transferred. Many of these scams utilize phone numbers that show up on caller ID units from various county offices and use voice-over-IP technology, making them difficult, if not impossible, to trace.

Most recently, scams have been conducted using the Hamilton County Trustee’s office and name in the hopes of making people think they are behind on their taxes.

“We do make phone calls out of my office, but it’s never about us coming to arrest you; we merely want to let you know your taxes are overdue,” Hullander explains. “If you owe money, you will receive an official notice in the mail with directions on how to proceed.”

Sheriff Hammond also said that even though these scams are hard to trace, his office takes each one seriously and his detectives do follow up.

Sheriff Hammond says people who are asked to provide payment over the phone, or to purchase a pre-paid GreenDot card, should ask for a contact number in order to verify the legitimacy of the notice or to notify a local law enforcement agency.

The sheriff is also stressing the importance of being aware of fraudulent charities. “Always verify the charity in question and only donate to reputable, legitimate charities,” he says. “Please talk to your family members – especially those who are senior citizens – about the importance of preventing scams and what to do if they believe they have been a victim of a scam.”

No county office will contact a resident over the phone in an attempt to solicit payment for funds. The county trustee’s office sends mail notifications of any payments necessary or arrears.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office might contact people by phone to let them know charges have been filed, but the office never requests payments, and fines and other payments are always made to the court.

During 2017, the HCSO responded to over 100 calls regarding deceptive practices in Hamilton County, Sheriff Hammond says.

More information: www.bbb.org/scamtracker/chattanooga

Source: Hamilton County Sherriff’s Office