Watch out for these Greensboro scams
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If you live in Greensboro, North Carolina, you should know that there are financial predators lurking out there ready to take advantage of you and steal your money. Here at the law offices of John T Orcutt, we like to keep NC consumers up-to-date on the latest scams and fraud attacks so that you can protect yourself, your credit score and your financial future. Today, we'll take a look at the top three scams hitting Greensboro, NC consumers and how to protect yourself.
The Kidnapping Scam
The FBI has issued a warning about a virtual kidnapping scam that's sweeping the nation, including Greensboro. It starts with a call about one of your family members. They may say that the person has been kidnapped. One Greensboro man was told his daughter was kidnapped and heard a girl screaming on the phone. Fortunately, he realized the voice wasn't his child's, but other people have not been so savvy and have lost out big on this scam. There are various iterations to the scam. Sometimes they'll say that the victim was involved in a car accident with a dangerous criminal and you have to pay to get them back. They may say your loved one was taken over the border and outside the country and you have to pay to retrieve them. They pressure you to pay immediately, usually via an instant money transfer or else your loved one will be hurt. In fact, no one has been kidnapped but they have a co-conspirator scream or say things to amp up the drama to try and get you to pay up while they're still on the call with you. The FBI advises if you get a call like this that you should:
- Ask the “kidnapper” to describe your loved one (however, even if they can, that doesn't mean that they have them – they may have seen a photo on your Facebook page).
- Ask to speak to your loved one, see if their voice matches the person who has allegedly been kidnapped and ask questions only they would know (likely it won't get this far).
- Mute the call and use another phone to try and contact the person that has been “kidnapped” to make sure they are safe and sound (alternately text or Facebook message them).
- Tell the kidnapper you need more time and ask for a callback number or for them to call you back. Then immediately contact law enforcement (even if they tell you not to do this).
Duke Energy Scam
This scam is another that relies on pressure and panic to get you to fork over money that you don't owe. The Duke Energy scam has been perpetrated against both individuals and businesses, so it's best to be on the lookout at home and work for this fraud. It starts with a call that claims to be from Duke Energy. You're told that you're far behind on your energy bills and that your power will be shut off within 20-30 minutes if you don't pay up now. Most of the time, the fraudsters ask for $500 to $1,000 or more on demand it via pre-paid debit card, Money Pak or another instant money device. Most people panic at the prospect of having a utility shut off and will often pay up even if they believe they are current on payments. Consumers may assume they can pay now, stop the cutoff then work it out with Duke Energy later. The problem is, Duke Energy didn't get the money – a scam artist did! Here's the advice Duke Energy offers customers to protect themselves:
- Duke Energy may call you about your account, but you will never get a call out of the blue, with no prior warning about a past-due balance.
- Delinquent customers will be sent several notifications well before disconnection. There will never be a service disruption without many prior notices.
- Duke Energy never demands payment via pre-paid debt or a Money Pak card. They can make payment online, by phone, by bank draft or in person.
- If you think you may be on the receiving end of a Duke Energy scam, call (800) 777-9898 to confirm with the utility provider before you pay.
Final Four Ticket Scam
March Madness is always hectic for sports fans and, if your favorite North Carolina NCAA team makes it into the Final Four, you may be scrambling for tickets if there's a local game. But you should know that sports and entertainment tickets are big opportunities for scammers to take advantage of you and take off with your money. One Greensboro woman lost $1,400 this Spring when she tried to land tickets to a Duke vs. Michigan game. She purchased her tickets from a Craigslist offer, forked over big bucks and never received the tickets. Needless to say, she ended up empty handed. While Craigslist can be a good way to score sweet deals on some things, it's also a breeding ground for scams. Even if you meet up with someone to purchase tickets in hand, you can be handed counterfeits. The Better Business Bureau offers this advice for ticket purchasers:
- Only use a legitimate seller. For Final Four tickets, you can check with the official NCAA Ticket Exchange.
- Be sure you use a secure website for the purchase so you can pay with a credit card in an environment where your information won't be compromised.
- Beware of a good deal – if you're offered a price that's just too much of a steal, it's likely you may have stumbled onto a scam.
- Don't ever pay with a pre-paid debit card or Money Pak. No legitimate ticket seller will ask you to send money this way.
The first rule of avoiding scams is to be skeptical. Beware any deals that seem like uber bargains. Don't pay with prepaid cards or cash equivalent cards. Before you pay up, always check the legitimacy of what you've been told. When in doubt, contact the North Carolina Department of Justice, Better Business Bureau, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or FTC to file a complaint or see if someone else has reported a similar problem.
If you're a Greensboro, North Carolina consumer struggling with debts you can't pay, are living paycheck to paycheck or are at risk of losing your home to foreclosure, we can help. Contact the law offices of John T Orcutt for a free consultation today. Call +1-919-646-2654. In addition to our Greensboro location, we have offices in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Garner, Wilson and Durham.