Along with the arrival of the holiday season comes an increase in the number of scam artists whose rip-offs have ruined the holidays for many unsuspecting people.
To help consumers protect themselves against phone fraud and other deceptions that people are especially vulnerable to at this time of the year, AT&T has identified certain scams that are common during the holidays. These tips will help consumers protect themselves from becoming victims of fraud.
Consumer travel increases heavily during the holidays. Many people don’t realize that this is a prime time for thieves to steal calling card numbers from those making phone calls from a pay phone. When calling from a public phone at the airport, train station or bus terminal:
— Protect your calling card number by blocking the telephone keypad with your body as you dial the number.
— Whenever one is available, use a card reader phone that automatically reads the billing information on your calling card, so you don’t have to say the number aloud. If you must read your card number to an operator, speak softly or cup your hand around the mouthpiece.
— Find out if your calling card provider offers safeguards such as numbers that are easily memorized so that the card itself doesn’t have to be taken out to be used.
— AT&T Calling Card customers can restrict their card’s ability to dial international calls – the favorite use of stolen cards by calling-card thieves.
— Report a stolen calling card or suspicion of fraud to your long-distance company immediately. The company will cancel the calling-card number and issue a new card to you. AT&T Calling Card customers should call 1-800-CALL-ATT.
Scam artists are especially active this time of year. And, while the popular belief is that older people are the most frequent targets of scam artists, in actuality, people of all ages, income and education levels and lifestyles can be taken in. All consumers should be wary of a call from someone who:
— Guarantees a credit card with a high credit limit just in time for holiday shopping but wants an up-front payment.
— Claims to represent a charity you’re not familiar with.
— Says you need to buy something or pay a fee to win a prize.
— Asks for your credit card, calling card, bank account or social security number.
— Uses a company name that is intended to sound like a government agency or a well-known company.
— Pressures you to act on the offer the same day.
— Acts as if he or she has done business with you before.
— Is unwilling to send you written information on the offer or give you references.
— Claims you’ve won a prize and you haven’t entered a contest.
The best defense against all kinds of fraud is an educated consumer. If people understand how scams work they’re less likely to become a victim.
To report a fraudulent or suspicious telemarketing call consumers can contact the National Fraud Information Center at 1-800-876-7060.