Police warn of scam where telemarketer knows personal information
By WFSB Staff
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -
A scam that is sweeping the country has been popping up in Connecticut and what these scammers know about their targets is unsettling.
People across the nation are getting calls from someone posing as an aggressive lawyer claiming to be collecting a debt.
"I just felt very violated. Very violated," said Kara Garcia of Hartford.
Garcia wasn't home when her son got the call from a woman saying she needed to pay a $630 debt.
"They basically said they were looking for me, and that if I don't call them back they were going to send a marshal to my home and a police officer will arrest me," she told Eyewitness News.
Garcia found the threat of arrest was disturbing, but chalked it up to nothing more than an annoying telephone scam until she found out just how much they knew about her.
"They had my routing number, my checking account number, and actually they had my social security number," she said.
Garcia went to the police to file a report and learned scammers find personal information whatever way they can. They use it to try to convince their victims to pay up.
"You know it's always amazing how much personal information is floating around out there about all of us," said South Windsor Police Sgt. Scott Custer. "And it can be as simple as a bank loan application that was left out in the trash. Or was mail that was stolen out of someone's mailbox. Online data that was published and perhaps should not have been."
Police have been getting reports of these fake debt collectors for several years. They gave us these tips on what to do if you ever get a call that you think might be a scam.
Do not engage in conversation.
Ask them the questions.
Ask for it in writing.
Call the police.
Never give out financial information over the phone
Don't feel threatened.
Police also warn people not to start a conversation with a scammer that gives them an opportunity to learn more about you.
If they're pushing you to give information, turn the questions back to them. Ask who they are and who they're collecting for.
You can always call the company they claim to be collecting for directly to see if the charge is valid. If they're a legitimate collection company, they should be able to answer your questions.
Ask for written verification of the supposed debt. If you feel you're being scammed, go to your local police to file a report.
Most importantly, police told Eyewitness News that you should never succumb to pressures to give out financial information over the phone. Empty threats are common tactics scammers use to try to intimidate people.
In Garcia's case, the worry of a possible arrest was certainly unsettling, but police don't make arrests for civil debts, and her gut told her not to react to their threat.
Eyewitness News tried calling the law firm, but no one would answer our calls.
"They move from one facility to another number," Garcia said. "They just keep moving on, and on, and on."
Copyright 2012 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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