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Friday, February 26, 2010

Phone Scams

Phone Scams

Good article on local phone scam: http://hermistonherald.com

Commonly called the "Grandparent's Scam", or the "It's Me" scam, this fraudulent plea for money is targeting the elderly in our local area.

Typically, the victim gets a phone call from someone claiming to be a relative. The "granddaughter" has supposedly been arrested and needs bail money. Of course, it's a lie, and any money sent will be stolen from the compassionate grandparent.

Easy to see through? Only the naive fall for it? Think again. These scams are common for one reason: they work. Good scammers have the ability to persuade and convince...otherwise they'd be out of business.

The Hermiston Herald article interviewed Umatilla County Sheriff Lt. Gen Diehl. The officer had some good tips:

Recognize the scam.

- Do some research
- Develop a questioning attitude
- Be alert to email fraud

Get a phone number and contact the caller.

If the call is on the up-and-up there should be no problem in getting through to someone who actually knows all the details of your account.

- Verify the caller's name and position
- Verify the purpose of the call

Email scams frequently include an internet link to a website. It's safer to avoid clicking on the click. Rather, type or copy/paste the address in to your web browser manually. Fraudulent links will often disguise the name of the link, making it appear to be legitimate.

The Federal Trade Commission has some good advice:

Ask yourself some questions.

- Who's calling and why?

The law requires telemarketers to give you information about the call:
- The name of the caller and their company
- The purpose of the call (what are they selling?)
- Say "No, thanks" and hang up on telemarketers who don't give you the required information.

Red Flags

- Fast talkers
- High pressure

Legitimate businesses give you time and written information before asking you to commit to a purchase.

Don't carelessly use the word "OK".

Fraudulent callers will ask you to confirm private information that they should already know.

If you say, "OK", they can later claim that you approved a charge.

What time is it?

Legitimate businesses call only between 8 am and 9 pm.

A seller calling earlier or later is violating the law and you should report them to the FTC.

Do you want more calls like this one?

- If not, tell the caller not to call again.

Once asked to not call, telemarketers who call again are violating the law and you should report them to the FTC.

Bottom line: You're pretty safe if you are the one to initiate a call to a business. If you get a phone call from a "business" out of the blue, chances are good that it's a fraud, or at the very least, an unwanted interruption to your day. Tell them "No, thanks" and hang up.