With so many scammers around the world, it can be difficult to keep track of them all in an effort to avoid becoming their victim. Luckily, organizations such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) are hard at work to provide everyone up-to-date information on the latest scams out there. As evidence of this, recently the BBB reported that the notorious, long-running Jamaican Phone Scam has changed a bit. Consumers need to know what to look for with this particular fraudulent scheme so they won’t end up falling prey to it.
What Was the Original Jamaican Phone Scam?
When the Jamaican Phone Scam first began, it had a very specific script. To start, a consumer would receive a call from the area code of 876, which is the local area code for the Caribbean nation of Jamaica. The caller would identify themselves as the Publishers Clearing House or a reputable organization such as the BBB or U.S. Postal Service. Once they captured the interest of the consumer, the caller would tell the person that they had just won a large sum of cash or a luxury item such as a Mercedes or high-definition television set.
Then, the scammer would tell the consumer that to receive the promised award they would have to send a specific amount of money through Western Union or use a Green Dot MoneyPak Card. Unfortunately, many consumers fell for this because they really wanted to receive their prize. Once they sent their money, they never heard another word about the offered goodies.
The New Jamaican Phone Scam
Too many consumers must have heard about the scam, because the perpetrators have recently altered it slightly. They still call from the same area code, but they now contact people who are not financially stable and ask them if they would like a loan or a credit repair.
For the new Jamaican Phone Scam, the fraudsters identify themselves to consumers as a loan company in the United States. They give out their website address and therefore sound believable to the unknowing, financially strapped people they’re trying to prey on.
The catch is that those interested in the proffered help must send at least three months of payments to secure the loan or credit repair process. Of course, once people send in their money, they never receive the services they believed they would.
Sometimes, the scammers will ask for personal information in the process. This is mostly to make the loan or credit repair story sound more legit, but there is still a chance they can use the information they request as a way to commit identity theft. And even though they are in a foreign country, it is possible as well for them to withdraw money from a consumer’s bank account if they have the person’s account and routing numbers.
How to Protect Yourself
To protect yourself from becoming a Jamaican Phone Scam victim, if you receive a phone call out of the blue telling you that you’ve won a large sum of money or you’re eligible for a loan or credit repair, do not under any circumstances give the caller your personal information.
Also, if the caller identifies themselves as being from outside of the United States, understand that dealing with sweepstakes or lotteries operated by someone in a foreign country is against the law, so you shouldn’t follow any steps the caller tells you to take.
Additionally, you should never send money to a company or organization that has unexpectedly contacted you, at least not without first researching that entity thoroughly.
As a general rule, you should never engage in a phone conversation with someone offering you something you didn’t ask for. If you receive an unsolicited phone call involving such an offer, stay on the safe side and always assume it is from a scammer.
What to Do if You Receive a Call From the Scammers
If you receive a call from the area code 876 that sounds a lot like the type of call described here, do not hesitate to get in touch with the Federal Trade Commission. The agency is actively trying to stop the fraudulent activities of the perpetrators of the Jamaican Phone Scam. You can contact the FTC at 877-FTC-HELP.