BBB Advice

by Stephen Mayer

It’s scary enough to think you might be a victim of identity theft. What could be worse? How about the idea that those who first alerted you to the problem aren’t who they claim to be?

That’s exactly what the Oregon Department of Justice is warning the public about right now. In their alert, the Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section says scammers are impersonating them by calling victims all across the country claiming that they are victims of identity theft. It’s so serious, the DOJ says one woman has already lost her life savings!

The DOJ says the fake agent calls to alert the “victim” of the security breach and claims someone is actively trying to break into their bank accounts. They then instruct the would-be victim to wire all their money to a different bank in a foreign country. To back up their claims, the DOJ says the caller then sends wire transfer instructions and two very convincing documents from the Oregon Department of Justice. They are then told to return those forms to the DOJ office located in Portland.

Make no mistake, this call is a scam. Remember, government officials will never call you first if there is a legitimate concern. They will contact you via mail. Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific also urges you to keep the following advice in mind if you are ever contacted in this fashion:

— Confirm on your own. If someone contacts you claiming to be with a certain government group or organization, verify who they are before you give them anything. Do a web search for their contact info and call them directly. Don’t rely on phone numbers or websites given to you, they could be sending you anywhere.

— Be on the lookout for red flags. Typos and grammatical errors, as well as unfamiliar email addresses and scare tactics, are all signs of a phishing scam.

— Protect your personal information. Never share your credit card numbers, Social Security number or even address and phone number with a stranger, especially if they have contacted you unsolicited.

If you think you have fallen victim to this scam, contact the Oregon Department of Justice online at www.oregonconsumer.gov or by phone at 1-877-877-9392. For more tips and scam alerts, download the BBB App at bbbapp.org. Anyone who feels they may be a victim of any scheme should report it to local law enforcement and BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker.

— Stephen Mayer is the Better Business Bureau marketplace manager for Oregon. He can be reached at 971-201-8528 or stephen.mayer@thebbb.org .

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