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AARP: Utility, credit-card scam reported

HONOLULU — AARP Hawai‘i is warning consumers about a new twist on the utility-imposter scam, involving cable and credit-card company imposters.

An O‘ahu woman recently notified the AARP Fraud Watch Network that she received a voicemail from her cable company to schedule an appointment to upgrade her cable box.

When she called the number on the voice message, they asked for her preferred time, already had her address, and then asked for her credit-card information to pay a $4 surcharge for the cable box. The imposter told her the card was not good and asked for another credit-card number.

She didn’t think anything of it until she got another call from someone claiming to be from her credit company “Bank Fraud Investigation Unit.” The caller told her that someone had made a suspicious purchase of $500 in Florida.

The imposter told her not to worry and that they would alert her other credit-card company and confirmed the other credit-card number that she had given the utility imposter. The credit-card imposter then asked for her birthday and mother’s maiden name to confirm her identity and credit cards and proceeded to also ask for her Social Security number.

At that point, the woman became suspicious and asked the imposter to read her last four digits and she would confirm it. When the woman persisted and asked the credit-card-company imposter for an office number to call back, the imposter hung up.

“Scammers are slick,” said Jackie Boland, outreach
director for AARP Hawai‘i. “They try to throw you off so you think something is routine or scare you so you are reacting emotionally. This scam uses both methods. A utility-company call for an upgrade wouldn’t necessarily raise red flags and someone calling you telling you your credit-card number has been stolen creates fear and anger.

“The woman in this case did the right thing. She notified the AARP Fraud Watch Network and the Federal Trade Commission to report the scam. She also notified her credit-card companies, bank and credit-reporting agencies. So far, no unusual charges or activity have been reported.”

Consumers can visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at fraudwatchnetwork.org or call 877-908-3360 and get tips on fighting back against scams. Trained Fraud Watch Network volunteers are also available to assist victims. Scams should also be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at reportfraud.ftc.com or by calling 866-720-5721.

If you think credit-card information has been compromised, contact the credit-card company and notify one of the three main credit-reporting agencies so a fraud alert can be placed on the credit report.

If you are not planning to apply for a new credit card or loan, you can also place a freeze on your credit. The credit reporting agencies can be reached at Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 or equifax.com; Experian: 1-888-397-3742 or experian.com; and TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289 or transunion.com.

Only one credit-reporting agency needs to be contacted to place a fraud alert with all of them. However, consumers need to call all three agencies to freeze credit and answer questions to confirm identities.
Source: The Garden Island

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