Mortgage relief scams, IRS scams, utility, and phone scams are common and the criminals are known to target individuals whom they assume to be more vulnerable, such as elderly people. Scammers use scare tactics to convince their victim that it is imperative to provide personal and/or financial information in order to avoid some type of penalization.
Companies such as, Con Edision, make it a point to inform consumers that their representatives will never call asking for account or payment information and to never provide sensitive information to a caller claiming to work for them.
These criminals are prevalent and are always developing new techniques – luckily, a large number of consumers know to wary unknown callers. Not only can you protect yourself by not answering or hanging up on solicitors, there have also been programs set in place to help reduce the number of scams.
Stop the phone calls, direct mail, and emails:
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set up a program called the National Do Not Call Registry, which is supposed to limit the number of unsolicited calls that you receive. They ask that you to visit Donotcall.gov, register your phone number, verify the request via email, and give the process 31 days to go into effect – if you’re still receiving unsolicited calls after that window of time you may file a complaint through them.
- So, what about those pesky preapproval letters from credit card and insurance companies? The consumer reporting companies have an opt-out program for that – 1-888-5-OPT-OUT or optoutprescreen.com – this program allows you to “opt-out” for five years or permanently.
- Direct Mailings – the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Mail Preference Service (MPS) gives consumers the option to opt-out of commercial mail for five years. To register with the DMA, go to dmachoice.org, this will place your name on a “delete” file and protect you from unsolicited mail from a large number of national companies. The DMA also provides an Email Preference Service (eMPS) that is geared to reduce unsolicited emails – this is good for six years.
Thankfully, these programs have been developed to help protect those targeted with unsolicited sale/scam calls, emails, and mail. But, in today’s technically driven world criminals are still thinking up new techniques to dodge any type of regulation or precautionary service.
It is important to note that the “preapproval” offers from credit card companies are not always what they seem to be – research and due diligence should be taken before opening a new line of credit. When opening up a new credit card look into the provider, read the fine print, and check your individual financial situation. Many credit card companies will tell you that since you are preapproved there will not be a hard inquiry on your credit report – this is a selling tactic, whenever you open a new line of credit it will impact your scores and lower your average age of credit.
If you have any questions about to protect yourself from fraud and reducing the amount of spam you receive visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website. If you notice changes to your profiles or scores that seem suspicious, contact North Shore Advisory, Inc. and speak to one of our FICO Certified Credit Experts who can review review reports, consult on new lines of credit, and assist you in building and/or repairing scores.