How to Spot a Consumer Scam

Phone call from unknown number late at night. Scam, fraud or phishing with smartphone concept. Prank caller, scammer or stranger. Man answering to incoming call. Hoax person with fake identity.

A consumer scam is an unlawful and deceptive ploy designed to extract more money from victims than they owe. During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, creditors, debt collectors and scammers have been stepping their efforts at an unprecedented rate. In 2020, consumers reported losing $3.4 billion to fraud.

Luckily, there are ways to stay protected. Let’s take a look at a few tips to protect you from a consumer scam.

4 Signs of a Scam

  1. They threaten immediate legal action

“Respond immediately or you will face legal consequences”. Getting that message is alarming for anyone, so how can you tell if you’re really at risk? The IRS will never ask you to make payments to an organization other than the U.S. Treasury, and will never threaten threaten to arrest you due to unpaid charges.

2. They leave empty voicemails or hang up as soon as you answer

Have you ever gotten a call from a mysterious number, answered, but no one was on the line? This may have been a scammer. Phone fraud can start out as a test, where the caller is simply trying to asses if the number belongs to a real person. By answering “hello”, they can confirm there’s someone on the other end of the line.

3. They are offering promotions that are too good to be true

Scammers might be calling to congratulate you on winning a free trip or a huge discount on high price items. Be especially wary of recorded calls with impersonal messages. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

4. They pretend to represent a familiar organization

Scammers will allege they are calling from a utility company, government agency, or any number of organizations you might know. This is an effective way to keep you on the line and extract personal information.

While it’s not possible to list everything you might hear during a consumer scam, hopefully these tips will help get you started.

Know Your Rights

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) upholds your legal rights against consumer scams. There are numerous restrictions on the timing and place at which a collector can contact you. There are also limits on the frequency of calls or emails, until it is legally considered harassment.

Even if you recognize the debt as something you truly owe, be wary of the source of the call and know the boundaries a debtor has to respect.

We can help.

If you receive calls from debt collectors that you believe violate the FDCPA, try your best to get the caller’s information, seek proof of the debt, ignore potential threats and most importantly seek legal guidance.

Our firm handles Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) cases on a contingency basis and FCRA claims regarding consumer scams across the state.

You can reach our firm’s FCRA attorneys by phone (919) 526.0450, by email at info@maginnishoward.com , or through our contact page.