It’s going to be hard to avoid overspending this holiday season. There are plenty of cool new toys and gadgets that can be very tempting and expensive. During the holidays, debt becomes almost a national pastime. That’s why scams #9 and 10 are about debts and coupons.
#10 – Scrooge wants money
Debt collecting is serious business, and big, business. Scammers know this and make their own debt collection calls. There are several reasons for engaging in this scam, but everything comes back to a single hope. The scammer wants to find someone gullible enough to send them money. If someone calls and claims to be collecting on a bad debt, remember they have rules to follow. Those that don’t abide by the law get into serious trouble. So, here are a few clues a call might not be legitimate.
If the caller can’t or won’t provide detailed information about a debt, including who the original creditor was, beware. It’s a sure sign something is not right with the call.
Debt collectors are also required to disclose what agency they represent. They must provide a name, address, and phone number. However, don’t trust their information. Verify everything independently before giving them any information or sending money.
Back in the days when I was a collector, we could be very aggressive. Not so, these days. Aggressive tactics are another red flag to watch out for.
If a caller asks for personal information such as a bank account or social security number, look out. These tactics are red flags, especially if they try to arrange payment over the phone.
The “debt collector” must be able to prove their claims. Don’t take their word for it. Insist on a verification letter to prove the debt is legitimate. Then, verify their claims. These days, it’s far too easy for Scrooge to create false documentation, so do verify everything.
And lastly, if the caller claims they’re initiating police action, remember that debtor’s prison went out of fashion long ago.
#9 – Coupon and gift card scams
The latest Costco surveys, Wal-Mart gift cards, and Amazon emails are all fakes. All of these offers are designed to do one thing, bring new blood to the scammer’s website and collect information. Once they have someone’s personal information, they can use it for identity theft or their next big scam.
Here’s one more thing to remember about these coupon scams. They’re typically run through email and any unsubscribe code in the email may not be safe. If the link goes to a well-known email service such as Constant Contact, AWeber, or MailChimp, it’s okay to unsubscribe. However, in almost all cases, these “unsubscribe” links are just another way for a scammer to verify they’ve scored a valid email address.