I attended the Idaho Scam Jam Alliance conference on May 15, 2018. Here are the main takeaways:
Consumer Fraud in Idaho
The FTC regional director noted that the top 3 most reported fraud issues are:
Imposter fraud involves cases where people pretend they are someone they are not. A common example is when a person calls claiming to be a grandchild:
Imposter: “Hi, Grandpa! This is your grandson and I’m going to get put in jail unless I can come up with some money!”
Grandpa: Oh no! Is this Johnny?
Imposter: Yes, this is Johnny. [the imposter now knows the name]
Then the imposter gives instructions on how Grandpa can quickly get him the money. The FTC director also said many times imposters will know the names of a relative through social media.
The gist of it is that they make you think they are someone they are not–a relative, a sweepstakes business, a travel company, or whatever else–and try to get you to pay them quickly.
2. Indentity Theft
Identify theft includes involves someone stealing your identify or personal information. One presenter mentioned that people may actually divert your mail and fish through it for information. They may then take out loans in your name and leave you hanging with the debt.
3. Debt Collection
The FTC direction mentions that debt complaints fall in basically three categories:
- People who owe the debt but don’t want to pay it.
- People who believe the debt collector is being abusive.
- Zombie Debt—debt that is so old that it is not legally collectible or debt that is “not my debt.”
The main tips the presenters gave were to:
1. Hang up the phone. If you get calls asking for money or personal information, hang up the phone. You can just hang it up or tell them you will call them back. You can then reach out to the person or entity at a number you know.
2. Monitor your credit. You can get a free credit report each year from the main credit reporting bureaus from www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Monitoring your credit will help you detect suspicious activity.
3. If it’s sounds too good to be true, it probably is. One presenter told a story about an elderly person who received a call that she won a free BMW—all she had to do was pay the taxes and storage fees. The scammer told her she could sell her current vehicle since she wouldn’t need it anymore to fund the fees. The elderly person did it and more and eventually had no money for food. When her family found out about it and confronted her, they learned she had given this scammer over $750,000!
4. Educate your grandparents and neighbors. People around you need to understand that there are many scams going on out there. If you can watch out for your own grandparents or elderly persons around you, it can go a long way to helping people avoid losing their savings to scammers.