ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Randolph County Sheriff Saturday, Oct. 1 warned residents that a scammer is using the Sheriff’s Office’s phone number, (304) 636-2111, in an attempt to swindle people out of their money.
Sheriff Rob Elbon Jr. said that when the target of the scam picks up the phone, they’re told that there is a warrant out for their arrest and that they need cash to make bond. Elbon said the scammers have also mentioned two of his deputies’ names, the Randolph County Circuit Court Judge’s name, and were able to provide detailed personal information about their target during the call.
Elbon said that information, like addresses and work details, is easily obtained through a Google search.
The scammer then has his victims meet him at the Sheriff’s Office.
Elbon said if you have a warrant out for your arrest, his deputies will come to you, and his deputies will not collect money for bond, nor will they know how much money your bond will cost.
“If there’s any question whatsoever, just hang up, block that number, you have that ability if its on your cellphone. We’ll definitely charge them if we can find out who it is. We’ll charge them with impersonating an officer, they’re specifically using their names, and telling them that they’re with the sheriff’s office, so we will charge them criminally if we can back track and find out who’s doing it,” said Elbon.
If you get a call like this, Elbon says to hang up and call 911 to report it. As of Oct. 3, four scam calls have been reported to the sheriff’s office. Since Elbon warned the community through a Facebook post on Oct. 1, no additional calls have been reported.
How did my personal information become ‘Google-able’ and how do I fix it?
If your personal information is showing up in a Google search, it’s likely because one or several public record aggregation websites has collected and posted your information. The process is legal, but if you’re getting scammed or have other privacy concerns, you might not want your information that readily available to people.
There is a way to get your information taken down from those websites:
- Google yourself. If you have a common name, you may need to Google a city and state in addition to your name.
- When you find a result that includes your address, phone number, or other personal information, click on it.
- Copy the URL of that page by highlighting the text in the URL field, shown below, clicking the right mouse button, then clicking “Copy.”
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Help.” That will take you to a page that says “FAQs.” The first thing on that list is “How do I edit or remove a personal listing?” Click that.
- That will take you to another page. Under “Removing the listing via our opt-out service” there will be a list that starts with “1. Access the Opt-Out Site.” Click on “Opt-Out Site.”
- That will take you to another window with a place to paste in the URL that you copied earlier. Paste it in and hit “Next.” You will need a working email address to complete the next steps.
- Answer all the questions.
- You will receive an email asking you to click a link to confirm that you want the listing removed. Click it to confirm.
It may take several days for Google’s results to update after a public record aggregation website takes your information down. That’s because search engines can only comb through websites for data to update their results so often.
There are also multiple different public record aggregation websites, and they all look slightly different, but they have similar processes to get your information taken off to the steps above. Depending on the website, you may need to look for slightly different sections to get to its opt-out page. Some have a link at the bottom that says “Opt-out.” When in doubt, look for the “Help” or “FAQ” section.
This will only remove your personal information from each individual website you complete the process for. The original source of the information, usually online county or city records, will still have it up. That information is generally not going to show up in a Google search—though it is still accessible to people who know where to look—but will require more effort to find than many scammers will put in to find victims.