Phone call scam alerts

October 17, 2012

There are always many schemes designed by criminals to try to take your money or steal your information. Here are three the North Carolina State Attorney General's office has listed to beware of recently.

Calls from phony drug agents

In the latest version of this scam, the callers claim to be agents with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The phony agents claim that you purchased medications online illegally and owe hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines.

People who have reported the calls say the phony drug agents threaten to search their homes or arrest them if they don't pay the so‐called fine, which they're sometimes told to send overseas by wire service. At least some of the calls appear to target people who purchased medications online, providing personal information that the scammers use to make their threats sound believable.

If you get one of these calls, don't respond. Legitimate law enforcement officers are not authorized to call you up and demand that you pay a fine. The FDA also recommends that you use caution before ordering any medications online, especially from websites based outside the U.S.

Fake tech support calls

Phony tech support scammers try to gain your trust by pretending to represent Microsoft or another legitimate tech company. They'll then ask you to let them control your computer from a remote location in order to fix it. But instead they'll leave it vulnerable to attack, or trick you into installing malware that sends the scammers your private information. They may try to get you to divulge your credit card or bank account numbers, or direct you to websites that will ask for them. They may also try to get you to buy a maintenance or warranty program that's worthless.

Be skeptical if someone who claims to be tech support contacts you out of the blue, and don't surrender control of your computer to them. Scare tactics and other high‐pressure strategies are sure signs of a scammer. Don't let fear of an infected computer lure you into trusting a con artist.

Illegal robocalls

It's against state law for a business to call you using a recorded message, but North Carolinians are continuing to receive these automated calls, often called robocalls. Most of these calls are scams designed to steal your personal information.

Hundreds of consumers have filed complaints about a robocall from "Rachel, with Card Services" who claims to be able to lower your credit card rates for an upfront fee. Another common robocall claims the FBI has noticed a spike in burglaries in your neighborhood, and suggests that you get an alarm system. We're investigating both of these types of robocalls as well as others.

If you get a robocall claiming to sell you a product or service or asking you to provide personal information, hang up. Never "Press 1 for more information," and never provide financial or confidential information to someone who calls you. Remember, scammers can manipulate Caller ID so you can't depend on that to help you sort legitimate callers from scam artists. Joining the Do Not Call Registry can help because if you're on the registry, you can be even more skeptical of anyone who is still making telemarketing calls to you.

Using consumers' complaints, we've been able to identify the culprits behind some illegal robocalls and taken action to shut them down.

If you spot a scam, report it to the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division by calling 1‐877‐5‐NO‐SCAM or filing a complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.

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