This is the time of year when scammers are at their peak. They know since the holidays are around the corner you may be using your credit card more and paying closer attention to your bills and emails. Don't be surprised if you get a call claiming you owe a big debt or that you've suddenly been approved for a sizable loan. Crooks are crawling out of the woodwork trying to scare you into making a hasty decision. Don't fall for their tactics.
I've heard from half a dozen folks who have reported receiving sketchy calls. Troy says he was told he had a long-standing debt that needed to be addressed immediately. The call taker reportedly said he owed $13,000, but got the amount down to just $2,000. Troy didn't buy it. He knows he doesn't owe anyone anything.
He told me, "It upsets me and takes time out of my day. I'm getting so many scam calls now. Just about everything you write in your column has happened to me!"
Hang in there, Troy. You're not alone. I called the number that showed up in Troy's caller ID and was hung up on half a dozen times. I was never able to find out if the so-called debt collector was part of a legitimate company. It's important to know the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act tells collection agencies what they can and cannot do. Under this law, you're protected from harassment and misleading practices. Consumers can learn more by calling the Colorado Attorney General's office at 1-800-222-4444.
Another scam that's circulating right now involves loan approval calls. Cecile told me she's received several of these. She was congratulated and told she had been approved for a big loan. Cecile was told the money would be deposited into her bank account in an hour as long as she gave the person on the line her checking account information. Right. Cecile knew better. She hadn't applied for any kind of loan. She wasn't about to give a stranger her personal information. Also, if she had applied for a loan, wouldn't the loaner already have that kind of information?
For those who are shopping online beware of pop-up ads that claim you can get a free gift card. The Better Business Bureau says this is just a ploy by identity thieves to get your personal information so they can use it later. The ads may look like they're from well-known retailers when they're actually fakes.
Another scam involving your inbox are those fake shipping notices. I have received three of these. You know what items you've ordered. If you get a notice about something being shipped to you and you don't recognize it, don't click on attachments or links in the email. If you do, you could download malware on your computer. The next thing you know your passwords have been stolen and you've become a victim of a holiday phishing scam. Protect yourself by not giving strangers personal information.
Contact Betty Sexton at 578-0000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.