Business

Action Line: How to check out what sounds like a scam

Many have fallen for the “grandparent scam.” That’s why the scammers keep doing it, says Action Line columnist Blair Looney – because it works.
Many have fallen for the “grandparent scam.” That’s why the scammers keep doing it, says Action Line columnist Blair Looney – because it works. Bradenton (Fla.) Herald file

A reader: I read your column and would like to share the following with you.

A few days ago I received a phone call from the Bakersfield area, phone 661-699-7576. It was a man’s voice claiming to be my oldest grandson, and wanting to talk to me and my husband about something that was “very embarrassing.” Of course, I knew right away this was a scam, and didn’t “bite.” There was a lot of background noise, almost as if several people were talking on phones.

Anyway, I went online and discovered a lot of people have complained about similar calls from the same phone number. The Internet also identified the phone as an AT&T landline, so I tried calling a call center in the Philippines where the person taking the call had no idea what I was talking about. I asked to speak to a supervisor, but, of course, that got me nowhere.

My question is, if the phone number is known, why doesn’t someone try to contact these people and stop this type of activity? Is there a law enforcement unit that tries to track down this type of scammer?

Where do consumers report calls such as this?

Action Line: You sound like a savvy consumer. Many have fallen for the “grandparent scam.” That’s why the scammers keep doing it. Because it works!

The answers may surprise you! A 2011 National Fraud Victim Study by the AARP Foundation looked at the behaviors of those who most often are victims of scammers. Here is what they found:

▪ Consumer fraud victims get sold by persuasion tactics. These victims report attending sales presentations when they are offered a free meal or hotel stay in return, or entering personal information into a drawing to win a prize.

▪ Consumer fraud victims are less likely to take preventive actions to protect themselves from fraud. They don’t sign up for fraud prevention measures like the Do Not Call List, and they don’t check references for businesses before hiring them.

▪ Consumer fraud victims expose themselves to many sales situations. These victims often allow sales people into their home to make a presentation, and they are more likely to open and read every piece of mail they receive.

Education, gender and income have little effect on the likelihood of a consumer becoming a scam victim. However, different kinds of scams seem to lure different types of people.

▪ Lottery scam victims: More likely to be single, less likely to have gone to college and report income of less than $50,000 per year.

▪ Investment scam victims: More likely to be male, more likely to have some college education and report an annual income of $50,000 or more.

▪ Prescription drug/identity theft victims: More likely to be female and single, less likely to have gone to college and report an annual income of less than $50,000.

Reporting scams helps stop scammers and prevents more victims in the future. Smart people fall victim to scams every day. Awareness and education can help you protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Here are a few of the places you can report a scam:

▪ BBB: bbb.org/scamtracker or call 800-675-8118

▪ Federal Trade Commission: ftc.gov

▪ Consumer Fraud Reporting: www.consumerfraudreporting.org

▪ California Attorney General oag.ca.gov/consumers

There also are countless sites online where you can post information as well.

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or info@cencal.bbb.org.

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