Regrettably, according to the New York Times, the latest victims of fraud are those who have been scammed previously.
Groups calling themselves ‘asset-recovery firms’ have been targeting older people who had been victims of some other type of scheme, such as a fake work-from-home opportunity or fraudulent timeshare investment, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The fake asset protection firm calls the victims, claiming to be able to recoup the money lost for a big upfront fee — anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $1,000 or more. However, after taking the money, the so-called asset protection companies do barely anything to remedy the loss.
“It’s a nationwide issue,” said Stacy Canan, deputy assistant director of the bureau’s Office for Older Americans. The bureau has received over 400 complaints.
Read more: Top 10 scams you should know about
Last October, the FTC shut down an asset-recovery firm in Florida that promised to help people who had lost money on timeshares and precious metals. But these claims were completely false.
No one really knows how these scamsters find consumers who were previously victims of fraud, but one guess is that they get a hold of ‘sucker lists’ from other criminals who had success in tricking people in another scam the first time around.
‘They’re re-scamming that same victim,” said Amy Nofziger, director of regional operations with the AARP Foundation and manager of its Fraud Watch Network call center.
How to avoid telemarketing scams
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a certain company, you need to follow some steps to ensure you don’t fall prey to fraud.
- If you receive a phone call from someone offering to recover money, hang up the phone, and contact the consumer regulator in your state.
- If you receive offers for any other services over the phone, request the information in writing, and discuss it with a trusted family member or friend before taking action.
- If you have paid a fraudulent recovery firm and if you used a credit or debit card for payment, call your bank immediately to tell them. With a credit card, you may be able to get your money back, especially if it has been less than 60 days. You should also contact the police and file a complaint with the FTC.
- If you receive calls from anyone claiming to be the IRS, you should hang up. The IRS does not call and will try to reach you via U.S. mail first. They also do not call and threaten people.
John Koskinen, commissioner of the IRS said in a statement, ‘Don’t be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money. We continue to say if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us.’