Telephone scams are alive & well

August 02, 2000
Santa Paula News
Telephone scams are alive and well and you just might be the next victim; in fact, one family was targeted twice in as little as week. The latest is close to home: the parents of Brian Guevara, a Realtor with Remax Gold Coast, received telephone calls that he said were “potential threats to their financial well-being.”With the first call, the scam artist claimed to be a representative of Adelphia Cable, which recently purchased TCI and serves all area cable users.“They told my mom that she was three months behind in her cable bill but as a convenience they could ‘take care of it over the phone’ ” if she provided her credit card number to bill to.Guevara’s Mom was too sharp for the rip-off artist: she said she would get her Adelphia statement - which noted her last, on time payment - and when she returned to the phone the caller had hung up.She took it a step further and contacted Adelphia to confirm her account was current and told them of the call.The second call came just days later when a caller claimed there was a problem with the family’s VISA credit card. All that was needed to solve the problem, the caller said, was - get this - her credit card account number. Once again the situation was defused when Guevara’s Mother asked the caller to specify exactly which card the dispute was centered on: after all, she reasoned, if the caller knew of the problem they should have the card information, including the account number.The caller was not able to supply the card account information requested.“I reported the first incident to police but you may want to alert the town, to remind them to be careful when dealing with anyone over the phone or in person and to never give any personal or financial information to anyone they do not know,” noted Guevara. It is better if “they initiate the call to the company in question.”
Phone scams are becoming one of the most popular - and safest for the scammer’s - way of ripping people off. Once a criminal has your credit card they can spend thousands of dollars in just minutes, thanks to the new shopping opportunities on the Internet, where more and more fraudulent purchases are being transacted.Credit cards can also be used to obtain even more information about the card holder that could lead to identity theft, a crime that can continue for years and ruin your credit. . .and your life.Guevara’s Mom had the right idea and knew how to handle the situation, although the first caller - claiming to be from Adelphia - was clever enough to use a business she was almost assured of using and therefore might not raise suspicions.In the second instance, the caller who claimed to be from a credit card company, the attempted ruse wasn’t as clever but, sadly, people do fall for such scams.Guevara’s advice is right on the button: never, ever, ever give out credit card or personal information over the telephone. It’s a simple rule to remember and could save you thousands of dollars and plenty of grief.

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