Victims claim that when the toll free number is dialed, the representative requests the “winner’s” bank account number so that the winnings may be wired directly into the account. If the victim refuses, the representative quickly disconnects the call.
“Fighting identity theft is a constant battle and the attacks can come at you from all fronts,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Central East Texas. “Because we are all potential victims, it’s important to be wary of the red flags and take the necessary precautions to fight identity theft.”
BBB reminds consumers of the importance of protecting your identity from unlawful use:
Never provide financial information, such as checking account information and credit card numbers on the phone or online, unless you initiate the contact and are familiar the person or organization you are dealing with. Call your BBB to check the company out and make sure the company contact information on any letters or emails matches the company’s registered information.
Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.
Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another identifier.
Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails; instead, type in a Web address you know. Use the most up-to-date firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software available.
Don’t use obvious passwords like your birth date, your mother’s maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
Keep your personal information in a secure place at home.
BBB also reminds consumers that Publishers Clearing House (“PCH”) will only contact major prize winners in person; smaller prize winners are notified by FedEx, UPS or certified mail.
If you believe you have received a suspicious letter or email from a fake sweepstakes or wish to report another fraud or scam, please call the BBB Hotline: (903)581-8373.