Persistent phone calls may be a scam

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DEAR SUN SPOTS: You and your readers need to wake up and smell the coffee regarding these fake credit card calls (Feb. 11 column). Contacting banks and credit reporting agencies won’t help. Neither will being on the Do Not Call list, or listening to the recording and pressing 3 or 9 to discontinue all future calls.

Here’s why: It’s a scam. (If your reader actually got the calls to stop by doing this, she’s lucky indeed; I’ve done it, but the calls usually resume within two or three weeks.) You should pay more attention to the articles in your own paper; late last year there was a short piece that contained a warning from the Maine AG’s office alerting readers to this scam — finally, after I’d been receiving these calls for two or three years!

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The calls are not coming from anyone you’ve done business with, and it’s doubtful that they’re checking your credit report. These calls appear to be randomly robo-dialed by a computer, and you’re connected with a person once you press 1. I’ve been on the Do Not Call list for five years (and keep my enrollment current), but these calls keep on coming in spite of the fact that there’s a $10,000 fine for business — or scammers — who call people on the list. (Charities and political groups are exempt from this rule.)

The people making these calls are hard to catch, even if you have caller ID, because the calls probably originate in one place and are then routed through another phone number. I have told them to stop calling, but the person just hangs up, and a few days later the computer dials my phone number again. So now I just press 1, wait till a person answers, and blast them with the air horn I got at the dollar store. (Don’t do this if you have FairPoint DSL, it’ll wreck the filter in the phone line.)

They’re just trying to get your credit card number. Don’t give it to them. Never give your credit card number to someone who calls you out of the blue — it’s a scam! By the way, there’s a new scam around where the recording promises you a two-day cruise for responding to a three-question “survey” about the debt crisis. At the end, after reading you a bunch of official-sounding rules, they’ll ask for your credit card number to cover “taxes and port fees.” Have you caught on yet? It’s a scam!

Since this is obviously a very widespread problem — and the calls are almost certainly coming from out of state — maybe the AG’s office should get the FBI involved. — Jim, Lewiston

ANSWER: Jim is right. Sun Spots should have pointed out that these calls could be a scam, although they aren’t always. Credit card companies can be nearly as persistent as con artists.

He is also right that they are hard to catch. The authorities try, but as soon as they close down one operation, another pops up. They can only be beat if everyone they calls hangs up on them.

Never give your credit card number out just because someone asks for it. If someone calls you, be wary. If it really is your bank, they will already know the number.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Thank you for always having such interesting items.

I am writing to inform your readers of a need in our community that many could easily fill. The Alpha and Omega Thrift Shop at the Norway-Paris Recycling Center is looking for volunteers to help in the shop. So many people love yard sales and thrift shops in our area.

We are a nonprofit Christian ministry selling pre-loved items to the public and raising money for our local and worldwide endeavors, including the Oxford Hills Christian Academy, His Place Teen Center and foreign missions.

There wil be an informational gathering at King’s Hill Inn in South Paris on Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. Anyone interested in helping is asked to call Bert Rugg at 515-3000 or myself.

Donations are always welcomed by calling either number or dropping off items at the shop. Thank you. — Janice Davis, 744-0204

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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