Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tis the Season

My cell phone has been ringing "off the hook"  -- oh, right, no hook -- with scammers trying to either get my card numbers or offer me fake loans.  The text messages are pouring in.  The first one said text STOP to unsubscribe, which I stupidly did, despite the fact I had not subscribed to begin with.  All this did was let them know they had hit on a live number, and then the fun began.  Every few minutes I got a text that says "Your application for a cash advance has been received!"  or "Your application for a car loan has been approved!"  Right, except I applied for neither.  It's like the emails I get telling me I won that lottery I never entered or offering to let me help them smuggle millions out of an African country which they will share with me because I am such a dear sweet Christian woman.  (Wrong, dear heart.  I'm about as sweet as a rattlesnake, and I'm Jewish.)   

If I respond positively, they will want me to put up some substantial cash to close the deal.  Then I will never hear from them again. 

It's $mas, not to be confused with the actual Christian holiday, but rather, the special secular holiday for shopaholics that happens at the same time.   People are out there spending like there is no tomorrow. The retailers depend on it.  The little children demand it.  The scammers figure everyone is tapped out and desperate and will not be thinking clearly because they are on a shopping binge and drunk on the endorphin rush of spending pleasure.  And needing a loan, right?  Just a little cash advance to help them out at this critical time? 

Yesterday, I began getting multiple calls from a number in Canada that Google does not recognize.  If you don't answer, they do actually stop calling.  Then there is the caller whose CID shows up as UNAVAILABLE who calls me several times a day.  Do they think I'm going to answer a call with that ID?  Seriously?  This one has been calling for three days now -- should stop by this afternoon. 

This morning I got yet another scam call, from a familiar number: 404-697-3127.  Google hits on that one instantly, and it's one I recognize because the guy using it called a friend of ours about six months ago and scared her badly.  He claims to be from American Express.  He leaves a message to call him back on an urgent matter, and have your AmEx number ready.  Yeah, right.  If AmEx were to call, they would already have my number, so that would be ridiculous.  If you do call back, he tells you your account is seriously overdrawn and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law unless you give him money right away.  Sometimes a woman calls and asks you to make a payment over the phone.  There are multiple numbers used by this particular scam, and multiple scammers.  Here are some of them: (215) 873-3443, (404) 697-3127, (718) 564-3261, (954) 308-5595, (954) 503-1800.  All are presumably cell numbers.  If any of these show up on a phone near you, don't answer.

Because of the threat, and the idea these people have their AmEx information, people do fall for this one.  Never give out your card  number!  No legit company would ever ask you to do that.  That you are asked to do so identifies the caller as a scammer instantly. 

And, they occaisionally call someone who doesn't have an AmEx account, like me.

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