Thursday, November 13, 2008

Phone Phishing?

Everyone who has an email account has had billions of dollars worth of offers if they would just assist the poor daughter of a deposed Nigerian dictator by giving her a safe account that she can park her money, and as compensation, you will receive a share of the wealth. Outside of repetitive stress disorder from hitting the spam button, these are not much of a problem as long as you ignore them. But lately, I seem to be under attack by phone.
It started on Monday when I was called at work, and a robo-caller let me know that there was no problem with my credit card (no card name mentioned) but that I could get a lower rate and to take part in this lower rate, all I had to do was to punch the number 1. I was ticked off that I was getting a robo-call at work, and I am on the "Do Not Call" list, so I punched 1 and waited for a real person. A woman picked up at the other end and wanted to know if I wanted to lower my credit card rate? First, I asked her what my credit card balance was. She said that she couldn't release that information to anyone but the cardholder. I told her my name, but didn't list any of the credit cards that I used. After a few seconds, she came back and told me that my credit card balance was $36,000.
"What?" I said, and then she said it was $78,000, again I repeated my brilliant comment "What?" Then she said that it was $108,000. Now, at first I thought I might be a victim of identity theft since I pay off my card balance every month. But then I thought about it for a second, and realized that she had no real information on me, that there was no way that she could figure out how to spell my name to check my account, and the fact that she didn't even want to know my account number made me think that this was some sort of in person "Phishing."
Phishing is an attempt to get you to release important information to the questioner so that they can use it in identity theft.
I informed her that I was on the Do Not Call List, and that using robo calls is a misdemeanor punishable by $500 per event. She then asked me if I knew where she lived, and guessing from her accent, I would say somewhere in the South, but I told her that it wouldn't matter, as the FBI can find her. I also threatened her and her employer with a lawsuit for invading my privacy, harassment, and fraud. She told me that I was abusing her right to privacy by pressing the number 1 during the robo-call, and she hung up.
Amusing, but to follow it up, we have been receiving calls at home about out delinquent account from some so called "collections agency." I ran our credit reports and there are no delinquent accounts or pending legal actions, so I figure this must be another form of phishing.
Off the top of my head (DISCLAIMER, this is not legal advice, and I am not your lawyer, this is just common information, and is designed to inform the public of their rights, if you have any legal questions, contact your lawyer.) when doing debt collection, they have to send you written notice of the debt and inform you that you have thirty days to dispute the debt. You can also demand written proof of the debt. The creditor cannot pursue any actions against you if you provide written dispute until that is resolved.
Whatever you do, don't give out any personal information, credit card numbers or bank account numbers over the phone.
Just doing my good deed.

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