Not even one week in to 2017 and there's a new scam you need to know about. Please read this before giving your hard-earned money to the wrong person.

As someone that has experienced this, it can be irritating and downright scary.

You answer an phone number you don't recognize to be told you could be going to jail unless you pay money for a legal matter involving the justice system. The person on the other side tells you they may come to your home or work and arrest you. Even worse, some of those scammers have went as far as saying it could "greatly effect your family." In these circumstances, it's likely a scammer.

This is a scam that has kicked off 2017, according to WIFR, and one resident has already paid them $2,400 with their debit card. Now these scammers have direct access to their bank account.

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department says several people have gotten the calls claiming to be from a high ranking official with either the Sheriff’s Office or the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Rockford. The caller says there’s a warrant out for the person’s arrest for not appearing at a grand jury. The person is then told to call an 800 number and transfer money for a bond payment.

As WIFR explains,

Neither the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department or the U.S. Attorney’s Office calls people and demands payments.
Anyone who gets a similar call should report it immediately to the Sheriff’s Department at (815) 319-6317.

From my personal experience, these people somehow obtained family member's phone number as well, leaving the same message about "this situation is a punishable crime" and "if the matter isn't solved it could effect relatives lives."

On the rare occasion that I answer numbers I don't recognize, I spoke with this "sheriff" (as they identified themselves) and made sure to get a badge number and their name. Both pieces of information were inaccurate. I told the person on the other side of the phone that I would pay but had to find my debit card. I put them on hold and dialed the real police and connected both parties to a three-way call. Once the scammer knew they were busted they disconnected.

I haven't been bothered since.

If you or a loved one experiences this, here are the numbers you'll want to call.