SCAM ALERT: Be on alert for 'Rachel from cardholder services'

MGN Online
Monday, July 7, 2014 - 11:34am

Rachel has new tricks up her sleeve

“Rachel from cardholder services” seems to have been around long enough that she should be in a retirement home by now. But, no, she just keeps on calling. The robo-call scammers that have been aggravating people for so many years is still interrupting meals, waking up babies and trying their hardest to steal money from the gullible.

Better Business Bureau of Acadiana is warning that she has a new angle: lying about her identity on your Caller ID.

This is a practice called “spoofing.” Technology has enabled scammers to make it appear as if their call is coming from another number. Some have reported seeing their own number displayed when Rachel calls.

These scammers are also capable of displaying the name and number of one of your family members, friends or trusted local businesses. Rachel, and other scammers, have in effect rendered Caller ID technology obsolete as they continue the illegal practice of spoofing others’ phone numbers.

The Federal Trade Commission has reported that even though past efforts to stop Rachel have temporarily slowed her scams, she is still prompting around 150,000 complaints a month at its Do Not Call Registry website.

Callers who respond to Rachel’s fake offer to lower their credit card interest rates find that at best the scammer only sets up a three-way call with the consumer and their credit card company to request a rate reduction. This is an action that any cardholder could undertake themselves for free.

Instead, Rachel charges for this “service,” sometimes between $495 and $1,595. Consumers are charged even in cases where the rate was not lowered by their card company.

In an attempt to stop Rachel the FTC is reaching out to the computer and telephone hacking community. The FTC has announced that it is hosting three separate contests at this summer’s DEF CON 22 hacker conference. DEF CON is the largest hacker convention and held every August in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The contests are called “Zapping Rachel.” Entrants are challenged to come up with the technology to lure in and trap the Rachel scammers, a process called a “honeypot.” $50,000 prize money is expected to attract numerous hackers to the worthwhile goal of stopping Rachel’s continuing harassment of consumers.

As the practice of spoofing continues to grow, BBB offers these tips for you when “Rachel” or any of the other numerous phone scammers get you into their sights:

• Do not trust Caller ID. Your phone’s screen might display the number of a familiar and trusted person but it can be faked.
• If you received a voice message with any sort of offer, do not call them back.
• If you answer and get a recorded pitch from Rachel or someone with a similar offer, do not press any buttons that you are prompted to press. This can cause you to receive even more annoying calls in the future.
• Trust your instincts. If something does not seem right or seems too good to be true, hang up.
• Allow calls to go to voice mail that appear to be from your own number or a familiar one. Pick up only if you recognize the voice.

Start with Trust®. Check with the BBB before doing business. BBB works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.

BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion. 

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