Advice: Don't give personal information unless you placed the call.
A local woman received 11 phone calls between Aug. 8th and 22nd that show up on her caller ID as local numbers of legitimate businesses and individuals. When she answered, instead of talking to someone she knew, she heard a recorded message supposedly from a company offering to lower her credit card interest rate to 1 percent.
A few times, she pressed the requested number to receive more information. The caller then tried to solicit personal information. When she asked questions, the caller hung up.
The Pratt Police Department has received several complaints about calls from “spoofed” telephone numbers, Sgt. Kent Wyatt said.
The practice of buying rights to phone numbers in a particular exchange is not illegal unless it is followed by the intent to commit fraud. Computer software enables an individual or business to spoof someone else’s phone number.
“There are not real clear laws making what they’re doing illegal,” Wyatt said.
He encouraged the woman to contact the Tribune, with the hope that sharing the story would prevent others from giving sensitive information to unknown callers.
Don’t give out personal information in response to an incoming call, the Federal Trade Commission warns. Identity thieves are clever — they often pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies, creditors or government agencies to get people to reveal their account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden name, passwords and other identifying information.
If you get an inquiry for personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to see if the information is actually needed.
Consumers who get interest rate reduction robocalls should listen with extreme skepticism, and delete them.
The companies behind the sales pitches claim to have special relationships with credit card issuers. They guarantee that the reduced rates they offer will save you thousands of dollars in interest and finance charges, and allow you to pay off your credit card debt three to five times faster.
The FTC says that the companies behind these robocalls can’t do anything for you that you can’t do for yourself — for free. If you’re looking to reduce the interest rate you’re paying on credit card purchases, the best bet is to call the customer service phone number on the back of the card and ask for a reduced rate. Be calm, patient and persistent.
There are legitimate debt relief companies that may require the consumer to put money in a dedicated bank account, which will be administered by a third party, and a reasonable fee may be required. Companies are prohibited from charging a fee before they settle or reduce your debt, however.
Credit card scams may be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
Telephone fraud can be reported to 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) or 1-888 TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322).