Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Phone Fraud on the climb

I just got three scam calls in a row this afternoon. So I did some looking. In the hope that this information can help keep you from being defrauded, here it is.

Some scam numbers are known. These are just a few, but they are used a lot:
caller id: 407 207 0820 from Orlando, FL
caller id: 850-475-5122 from Pensacola, FL
caller id: 442-074-144370 foreign
caller id: 442-074-618904 foreign

Here are some samples of the scams:

recorded voice: "Hello, this is your local phone company. We've noticed that your long distance bill is.....Please press one to have your account changed to the new plan." I talked a long time to GVTel after I got off the phone with this scam. They were very interested in following it up.

recorded voice: "Hi, this is Heather at Account Services," "Ashley Brown," or "Jonathan at Consumer Services"" calling about your credit card account. There's no problem, but you need to act now to get lower interest rates [ ... ] press 1 to talk to a representative."

Also: "Hi. This is Kelly at credit card services. I'm calling with an important announcement about your credit card account. This is our third attempt at reaching you. Our records indicate that you have been overpaying interest. Right now, we have you qualified to reduce your interest payment. To as low as two point nine percent. And cut your monthly payments in half. If you want to cut your monthly payment, lower your interest rate, and consolidate to one monthly payment, press one now. Again, this is your final chance to participate. So press one now. Or press three to be removed."

Or: claiming to be "United Debt Aid," or "Cardholder Services"

Or: Wanting to extend warranty on automobiles... press 1 to talk to customer service rep, press 9 to have phone number removed from offer. Often they say in the recording that they sent you several mail notices regarding the warranty on your car.

For example: Woman's voice: "Please listen carefully. This is an important notice regarding your automobile. We recently mailed you a postcard to activate your extended warranty coverage. This courtesy call is your final notice that your vehicle will be removed from our system. This means the opportunity to activate your extended warranty coverage at deeply discounted rates will be lost. To speak with an agent regarding your options before the deadline, please press one now. If you wish to permanently remove your vehicle from eligibility for future coverage, press three now."

Another example: Woman's voice: "This is an important message regarding your automotive warranty. We have made several attempts to reach you. This is your final courtesy call before your vehicle is reclassified. Press one to speak to a warranty specialist or press two and your file will be automatically be closed."

Or: the victim receives a phone call from a male caller impersonating the victim’s grandson. The caller reports that he is in Canada on an ice fishing trip and has been arrested for unknowingly trespassing on an Indian Reservation. The caller reports he is in need of bond money in order to be released from jail. The caller directs the victim to go to a local Western Union or MoneyGram and wire $3,500 to a location in Canada. The caller indicates that the Canadian Police will escort him to pick up the money.

Or: the victim is asked for paypal username and password to "clear up some problems".

Or a Mortgage scam: "Hi. This is Amy. You may be unaware that the feds have again dropped rates in order to help alleviate the mortgage crisis. The U.S. department of housing and urban development is offering government-insured loans through FHA with competitive interest rates that are easy to qualify for. In addition, Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, congressionally chartered institutions, have also taken action. These institutions are offering thirty year, fixed rate mortgages without prepayment penalties that will give you and your family long-term security. Because of the government's effort, interest rates have not been this low since two thousand five. Press one now to be connected to a select cluss(?) representative to learn more about these programs. Press nine to be placed on our do-not-call list. Again, press one now to hear how you can take advantage of these government-sponsored programs."

Or "A friend entered your name": Woman's voice: "Hello. Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Wal-Mart, and even Target now have their spring displays up. Recently a friend or family member who visited one of these stores entered your name at the vacation kiosk. For a chance to receive twenty-six hundred dollars towards a fabulous all-inclusive resort vacation. Congratulations. Your name was selected today to receive twenty-six hundred dollars towards a fabulous five day all-inclusive vacation to beautiful Costa Rica. Followed by an exciting six day Orlando Florida vacation to Walt Disney World. Including theme park tickets or rental car. Your accommodation for up to four people beer(?) our exclusive beach-side resort and casino. While you are our guests, you will enjoy all-you-can-eat meals, beer, wine, alcohol, along with touring the volcanoes, rain forests, and the incredible white sandy beaches. Press two now to receive your twenty-six hundred dollars towards this all-inclusive vacation. Don't miss out. Imagine you and your family enjoying free food and drink, sport fishing, snorkeling, horseback riding, plus the breath-taking wildlife Costa Rica is famous for. Press two now to enjoy all of this with your twenty-six hundred dollars towards this all-inclusive resort vacation."

Don't give these people anything. Just hang up. If you want to do something that takes a lot of work contact the FTC, or the FCC. It probably won't stop the calls, but it will remind them that they are supposed to be doing their jobs.

There is a helpful, funny, but a bit coarse website called Telemarketers Keep Calling Me. The owner of that site has made most of these transcriptions. And I thank him for these transcriptions. We've all received these calls.

If a recording calls, hang up. Don't press any buttons. Call the phone company and report it. If you have caller ID and want to see what others have said about the phone number you can probably look it up at whocalled.us.

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