SCAM ALERT: Holiday phone scams
Attorney General Carr is urging consumers to be on guard this Holiday Season and not to fall prey to telemarketing and imposter phone scams.
“During what should be an enjoyable time of the year, we don’t want consumers to be duped by con artists,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We want consumers to use good judgment and verify who they are dealing with before making an important decision. After all, a consumer’s best defense is to be prepared.”
Most calls are using a tactic called "spoofing" where the caller appears to be calling from one number (usually a professional office) but is actually calling from a separate location (usually outside the United States).
The most common scams this holiday season?
- Court of Appeals Scam
- People calling posing as "agents" for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals will ask the recipient to a monetary fine.
- While caller ID will show the call is coming from the Clerk's Office (404-335-6100), the calls are being spoofed and are not actually from the office. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals will not call to ask for you to pay over the phone.
- Loan Scam
- A call from a "lending club" offering to a loan to pay off a consumer's credit card balance.
- The caller will ask the consumer to make a purchase in the same dollar amount at a nearby store.
- After the purchase is made, the caller claims the full loan amount will be deposited into the consumer's account, allowing the caller to gain financial information.
- Utility Scam
- Utility customers are being called and told they owe a past due bill and their service will be cut off if payment is not made immediately.
- The scammers then provide a toll-free number to call to set up the payment.
- When customers dial that number, they get a recording that mimics the power company phone system, increasing the effectiveness of this scam.
- The caller will also send a fraudulent email out with the toll-free number.
- Social Security Scam
- Individuals are pretending to be employees of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in an attempt to obtain personal information from citizens over the phone.
- The callers even “spoof” the actual number of the SSA to give their call credibility.
- The SSA advises citizens to contact their local SSA office or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) if there is any question about needed information.
A way to identify fraud from the beginning of the call is if the caller asks for an up-front fee or they offer you a credit card, a loan, or "repair" of your credit.
Most companies will not call to collect payment over the phone.
The Consumer Protection Division says there are danger signs of fraud may be hard to recognize.
- Pressure to act immediately
- Use of scare tactics
- Refusing to send you written information
- Demanding that you send payment by wire or courier
- Demanding payment of taxes or customs fees to claim a prize
- Requesting your financial account numbers, even though you’re not paying for something with them
- Promising to recover money you’ve lost in other scams, for a fee
- Claiming that you can make lots of money working from home
- Refusing to stop calling when you say you’re not interested