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A service of Blue Planet Offices, Inc. Key West, FL

By the People for the People
Dan F. Schramm, Executive Editor


04-30-2021 -- SCAMS AND FRAUDS

Report Scams to the Florida Attorney General at

Most Calls You Get are Scams

Government agencies will never call you, and if they did, they would already have all of your personal information. Virtually every call you get from a stranger has some pretense -- that is if you take a moment to think about it -- you will realize it is a scam. In any case, NEVER give out any personal information over the phone. NEVER let anyone press you to make a payment in a hurry. There is never a real rush. No legitimate agency, organization or business will ever ask you to make a payment by purchasing gift cards or making a wire transfer.

Covid Vaccination Surveys --

As more and more Floridians receive their COVID-19 vaccination, it is important to be on the lookout for an emerging scam in our state: vaccine survey scams.

The Better Business Bureau has received reports of scammers contacting Floridians by email, text message and phone call offering compensation in exchange for completing a fake COVID-19 vaccine survey. Their goal—to access personal information.

Scammers can use this information to steal money, set up new credit cards in the victim’s name or commit identity theft.

To avoid this devious scheme:

Know that scammers may impersonate the CDC, vaccine providers or other medical organizations;
Do not automatically trust the number listed on your caller ID;
Ignore solicitations requesting personal information or payment; and
Avoid clicking on links in emails or text messages offering compensation in exchange for filling out COVID-19 vaccination surveys.
From Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.

Phantom Debt Collectors --

This includes calls where they claim you are going to be sued, or you have been sued, but they will give you a chance to work it out in the phone call. These are always bogus. If someone or place is going to sue you, chances are their lawyer will send you a copy of the civil action in advance, but if not, or if you are really being sued, you will be served by a licensed process server or a sheriff's deputy in person. You must be served with the complaint and the summons. You then have 20 days to file an answer or some other response such as a motion to dismiss or a motion for more time to answer. If you are served, you need to consult an attorney.

Phantom debt collectors attempt to collect debt you have already paid off or for debts you never owed in the first place. Another type of phantom debt collector is one attempting to collect a debt past the statute of limitations (SOL) which is generally 5 years. Any debts on your credit report must be wiped off after 7 years.

If you think there is a chance the debt is valid, ask for a validation letter from the debt collector that includes the collection agency's name, address, current creditor and the amount of the debt owed. If the debt collector asks for your name and address, hang up, as they are a fraud if they do not already have that information. Know that debt collectors are required by law to send a written validaiton notice within 5 days of being contacted.

Let me tell you about an instance of this that happened to me. Years ago I had a secured Discover Card to help build up my credit rating. It turned out to be illegal and the FTC sued and I was refunded all the fees I had paid and the balance on the card was forgiven. I got my original deposit back. Five years later I start getting calls from some collection agency claiming I had an unpaid balance on this card. Needless to say I told them where they could stick it. Total fraud and scam.

Also, if you have defaulted on a credit card, you may be contacted for a short period of time by the card issuer. If you can pay off the card, this is the time to do so, as it will be reflected in your credit rating. If the card issuer writes off the debt and sells it to a third party collection agency, you might want to pay it, but keep in mind that the debt collector will not be able to remove the negative report that the card issuer submitted to your credit report. In a nutshell, there is little point in paying a third party debt collector as it does nothing at all to help your credit rating.

Social Security Robo Scam -

One of the most prolific robo-call scams involves a call that says your social security number was used fraudulently and to press a key to speak with a social security representative. This call is a total scam.

Do not talk to them. They have no idea who you are and do not know your social security number. If you do get connected,-- which is to some foreigner in India or the Phillipines -- absolutely do not give them your name, much less your social security number. Just tell them they are operating an illegal criminal scam and to go fuck themselves.

You will absolutely NEVER be called by the U.S. Social Security Administration much less would they ever use a foreign call center.

Bill Payment Scams --

No utility or other business will ever call you demanding payment in the form of gift cards or wire transfers. DO NOT fall for any scam like this.

Your Relative Was Not Arrested and Does Not Need Bail --

Do not fall for this scam. The elderly are often targeted with this scam involving grand children. The callers generally do not even know their names, but if they do, they were gotten off of social media or in a similar way.

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