By Michele Fiore. CREATED Sep 5, 2014 - UPDATED: Sep 5, 2014
WAUKESHA - It's fortunate that we can get a sixth sense when something just doesn't feel right. Eight people had that feeling this week and called the Sheriff's department. That spared them from getting scammed.
A phone scam targeting Waukesha County tells victims they have an unpaid fine for missing jury duty or something else. Pam Ausen's father inlaw was told to pay $2-thousand.
"I feel really bad for the older people because first of all, they go into this panic," said Ausen.
And it's easy to see why. The caller tells people there's a warrant out for their arrest and they need to load cash onto a prepaid debit card immediately. Authorities confirm that's not the way they do things.
"They would just get written correspondence of some sort. So we don't call people as a normal course of business to tell them they have unpaid fines," said Jennifer Wallschlaeger with the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department.
We're learning the problem isn't just playing out in Waukesha County. It's a growing problem elsewhere in the state.
Sandy Chalmers with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said, "We have seen a sharp increase in the number of these government imposter scams. Some of the callers claim to be from the IRS, some from a court."
Prepaid debit cards like Green Dot Cash Cards have been connected to many scams.
"If they call and they're asking you to pay over the phone by purchasing a prepaid debit card or purchasing a money pack, don't ever do it. It's like giving your cash away," said Ran Hoth with the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau.
Ran Hoth with the Better Business Bureau's advising people stick to their instincts when something doesn't feel right.
"If you get a phone call unsolicited, first thing you should do is make sure that you call back the agency that supposedly is calling you," said Hoth.
The Better Business Bureau advises you check out their website and sign up to become a Scam Stopper.