Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Phone Scams Hitting the Cavendish Area/What you can do

The Cavendish Connects website now includes much of what was included on this blog as well as a calendar of Cavendish events. The new blog, “The Dish,” includes the Cavendish Update as well as on-going information.

On Monday a Cavendish resident asked that the following be placed on Facebook- "Yesterday I was contacted by a bogus call concerning my computer. Turned out it was a scam attempting to get me to buy protection plan for my computer.  

In response, several other people posted about scam calls they've received. 
• I've been getting calls telling me that they want to fix the problems I've been having with my Windows computer. When I tell them that I don't have a Windows based system, they hang up on me. 

I have had several of these calls. They were from another country, and could not speak English well at all. But He told me he was Michael Smith.lol Just tell them you're going to call your provider. They will try to give you "the number.” Don't use that one.

• They've called my husband several times. The last time he was sitting on the sofa, but told the caller he was driving his car and not at his computer and the guy hung up.

In the same vein, several weeks ago a Cavendish resident commented about the high number of hang up phone calls they were receiving during the day. Could this be a way of finding out if someone is home and if it’s safe to break in?

Telephone marketing fraud is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States and a million dollar industry in Vermont alone. While anyone is a potential target, those most at risk are people 60 years of age and up.

If you seem to be getting more of these calls, it is possible your number may be on the “sucker list.” These lists, which are sold to other telemarketers, contain information about people who have responded to previous “cold” calls. Some scammers use an area code, the first three numbers for a particular area and randomly dial the last four digits. An unlisted number does not protect you from this type of call.

To the question of whether someone is calling to check to see if anyone’s home, that is becoming less likely since many people are switching away from land lines to cell phones. More likely hang up calls are from marketers working on “sucker lists” and identifying when someone may be at home and therefore the best time for a scammer to call.

It is interesting to note that a number of the scam calls in Cavendish were tech support related. This is a newly evolving scamming area, which began in about 2008. Unless you’ve called tech support, and they are returning your call, hang up. DO NOT TURN ON YOUR COMPUTER. Check out the Malwarebytes Tech Support Help and Resource Page. 

Below are ways to avoid it happening to you, followed by what to do if you receive such a call

Avoid scam calls
• Check your caller ID before answering your phone. If it comes up as private caller, unknown caller or an 800 number, don’t answer it. You may also want to consider not answering calls where you do not recognize the number. Let the answering machine handle it.

• If you get a message that seems suspicious, requesting you to call-do not call until you’ve checked them out and confirmed they are legitimate (e.g. The call back number listed matches the one on your Medicare card or credit card).

• If you receive a cell phone call or text from an unknown number, do not respond. 

• Do not respond to unknown phone numbers on your “missed calls” list.

• Register for the National Do Not Call Registry. You can limit the number of telemarketing calls you receive by placing your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. You can do this by calling 1-888-382-12222 from the number you wish to register or by going to www.donotcall.gov On line registration requires that you respond by clicking on the confirmation e-mail. Your number stays on this list until you take it off or your number is disconnecting or re-assigned. Certain calls, such as charities and companies you do business with, can legally call you. However, you can tell them to put you on their do not call list.

• Do not call numbers that are sent to you as part of direct mail advertising (e.g. Call now to get your free gift.), or seen on TV, newspaper, or magazine or advertisement.

Remember that the more you ignore these phone calls, the more likely the scammer will be to move on and stop calling.

If you’ve registered for the Do Not Call Registry but you are still receiving calls. Write down the date and time of call, the name of the company and person calling and report violations to 1-888-382-1222.

How to Handle Scam Calls
• If you pick up the phone and caller asks you to push buttons, answer questions, or go on-line hang up. Do not participate. The longer they have you on the phone, the more likely they are to scam you or call you back.
• If you pick up the phone and get a recorded message, or Robocall, hang up. Do not press 1 or another number. 
• It’s important to know what’s a scam. A quick reminder is that if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Hang Up
• Learn more about identifying phone scammers by downloading the Federal Trade Commission’s Putting Telephone Scams on Hold:Recognize and Report Phone Fraud 

Report a Scam: Write down: the name of the company/business, date, time of call and the person’s name. Contact the Federal Trade Commission 1-877-FTC-HELP or contact the Vermont Attorney General’s Office 800-649-2424 or 802-656-3183

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