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Tag Archive | "Federal Trade Commission"

Local business reports spoofing activity


 

By Judy Reed

If you get a phone call from a local number and the caller ID says it’s White Creek Lumber or another local business, be sure it’s them before giving out any personal information.

According to Jane Gosling, of White Creek Lumber, a customer called them recently to let them know the customer had received a phone call and the caller ID showed it as White Creek Lumber—but it wasn’t. Instead, it was someone saying it was their last chance to get a lower rate on their credit card. 

The customer hung up and didn’t give out any information, which is the best thing to do, other than letting it go to voicemail.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “spoofing” occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally. U.S. law and FCC rules prohibit most types of spoofing.

How does spoofing work?

Caller ID lets consumers avoid unwanted phone calls by displaying caller names and phone numbers, but the caller ID feature is sometimes manipulated by spoofers who masquerade as representatives of banks, creditors, insurance companies, or even the government.

Go to https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/spoofing-and-caller-id and scroll down the page to where it says, “How do I file a complaint on suspected spoofing?” and click on “file a complaint.”

You can also print out the Caller ID and Spoofing guide on the same page.

The Federal Trade Commission also takes reports on spoofing. You can visit https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1 to file a complaint. The FTC then takes the data and compiles and publishes it each day at https://www.ftc.gov/site-information/open-government/data-sets/do-not-call-data to help those working on call blocking technology.

However, if you get a phone call from an 877 number that says it’s the FTC, it’s not. Don’t answer it. Scammers have also been spoofing their number. While the FTC may sometimes call you back about a report, they will not use that 877 number, and they will never ask for sensitive information, such as your bank account or social security number. 

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BBB Alert: IRS tax collection methods to change


 

The IRS will be hiring private collection companies to collect taxes in difficult cases.

The BBB is alerting consumers that the IRS is now required to use private debt collection companies to collect «inactive tax receivables.»

These include cases where the IRS can’t locate the taxpayer and more than a year has passed without interaction with the taxpayer for purposes of furthering the collection.

The law requires that IRS begin entering into agreements within three months. This provision was in the recent highway funding bill that Congress passed and the President signed into law.

The new law imposes specific reporting requirements on the IRS including an annual report of the number and amount of tax receivables provided to collection contractors, total amounts collected, and collection costs incurred by the IRS.

Also required is a report every two years of an independent evaluation of each private debt collection performance and a measurement plan that compares the best practices used by private debt collectors with those used by the IRS.

The timing of this new law follows a recent Federal Trade Commission crackdown on collections agencies related to questionable tactics used by some collectors.

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Consumers Energy scam


In December 2014, BBB began hearing from consumers who have received calls from someone claiming to be from the “Disconnect Department” of Consumer Energy. The caller stated the consumer was behind on their Consumers Energy bill and that they needed to make payment immediately to avoid disconnection. The company instructs the consumer to purchase green dot money cards for a specific amount due and then to call back once the cards have been purchased. The company provides generic contact names such as Mr. Johnson and Mr. Brown.

BBB contacted Consumers Energy, and they are aware of the scam.  They advised that they do not perform collection in this way and they do not accept payment via green dot money card.  Consumers Energy stated that there is a process that takes place when an account is delinquent:

• Bill is sent to consumer

• If payment not received, second bill is sent to consumer

• If payment is not received, shut-off notice sent to consumer outlining amount due and shut-off date

•If payment is not received, phone call made to consumer

• If payment is not received, service is disconnected

The BBB contacted the company making the calls, and the phone was answered PNG.  When asked what company was reached, we were informed we reached PNG Electric Company. BBB then stated we were trying to reach Consumers Energy and we were informed that they represent Consumers Energy and that we reached the Disconnection Department. When we asked where the company was located, the call was disconnected. During the BBB phone calls to the company, it sounded like a boiler room operations; we could hear several other conversations in the background. BBB has been unable to determine the true identity of the company or individuals making the calls or identify where they are located.

If you receive a call as described above, we suggest you report it to the BBB and the Federal Trade Commission.

Be sure to always research any organization you are considering doing business with by visiting www.bbb.org/western-michigan!

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