We have all heard about various “popular” ways to get scammed by phone callers or to be the victim of identity theft, and I have gotten calls trying to “get” me with some of them, but there are a few I read about recently that maybe you have not heard of. I have not seen or maybe just missed the warnings on some of them. Are you aware of these?
Fat Finger Dialing Scam: A simple mistake in dialing - or writing down - a phone number can be costly. The type of con it plays into is called a "fat finger dialing" scam. Consumers make a mistake dialing a number and end up connected to someone who leads them down a rip-off path. Almost any frequently called number is likely to be a target for the "fat finger" approach. Take the national number for the Do Not Call list run by the Federal Trade Commission. The correct number is (888) 382-1222. But if you are off by just one digit, you can end up calling a number that tells you the number has been changed. The number it directs you to call will charge you $5.49 plus an "administrative recovery fee," for "a new national directory assistance service."
Free Listing at Yellow Pages: This scam targets businesses. The caller says that he is from Yellow Pages and is calling to update their records and give a number of free months or a free upgrade. He proceeds by asking to confirm some basic information such as owner’s name, business phone number, address, and company name. Then they start billing the victim and only then the business owner realizes that it’s not a free listing and it was not Yellow Pages directory that called.
Toner Scam: Another business scam, the scam artist poses as a warehouse representative or vendor and makes contact with a targeted company. He will say "This is (first name). I need the model number off your copier". If the person who answers gives this info, the scammers will try to set up a shipment of toner. Of course, the deal is so good that the offer is based on a limited supply or limited time, pressuring the employee to act fast to get their money's worth. Upon delivery, both the employee and the company are usually in for a big surprise. The price of the invoiced toner is 2-3 times higher than expected, and the scam artist threatens with legal action if the company fails to pay.
Jury Duty scheme: the caller identifies himself as a court official and informs the victim that he or she is being prosecuted for failing to show up for Jury Duty. When the victim replies that this is the first time they heard that they were summoned for jury duty, the caller suggests that this may be a clerical error in the court system, and he asks for the full legal name, date of birth, and Social Security number to check the official summons files. The scam artist informs the victim that this data will be kept confidential, but it is required for cancellation of the outstanding arrest warrant. Boom! Your identity has been stolen.
There are a few tricks that are used by scammers to increase their odds of catching you off guard:
- Often the scams work because you receive a call where the ID shows it is from 'Secretary of State', a big bank, grandchildren, law firms, IRS, government officials, etc, or with an ID that is close enough that you might not notice a spelling difference. Or maybe it is an abbreviation that looks like it could be legit. That’s “Caller ID Spoofing”. The swindlers often fake their caller ID information to display someone else’s real number. When people receive these calls they dial the number they see on Caller ID and leave angry messages for an unsuspecting victim. Two-three days later the telemarketers change the Caller ID number and the scam continues.
- Tracing calls to the scammers is difficult. The calls often come from telemarketing centers located overseas. Our government has no jurisdiction to investigate or prosecute, and may find the “host” government unwilling or ill-equipped to assist.
- Another trick, victims report that when they call to complain about being ripped off by one of these scams (assuming there is actually a live number to call), the representative plays a recorded conversation with the victim saying 'Yes' except that the recording was read from a completely different script. The scammers replace one side of the conversation, making it sound as if the victim agreed to a purchase and the terms.
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
The following list I have heard of in the past from a number of sources, but they might be new to you. Of course we always need to be suspicious and on our guard.
2. Prize Distribution Centers
3. Offers to Lower Your Interest Rates
4. Fake Bank Alert Messages
5. Advanced Fee Loan Scams
6. Bogus Fund-Raising Operations
7. International Phone Call Scam
Please visit my website jimatthetop.com for a wealth of information and how-tos about buying and selling real estate, Houston area communities and neighborhoods, financing, mortgage resources and more.