By Eric Swanson
STRATFORD — A Stratford woman almost fell for a scam last weekend, but she balked when the company wanted her to send $4.
JoAnn Abbott received a flier Saturday telling her she had been chosen to receive $100 in gift rebates from Walmart, Target and other stores, Abbott said Monday. The flier said the rebates were good for a limited time, so she needed to call a toll-free number for details on claiming her reward.
Abbott said when she called the number, she spoke to a man with a foreign accent who identified himself as Neil Anderson. She said Anderson told her she had won a $100 gift card to a store of her choice, but she would need to send the company $4 to cover shipping and handling costs.
Abbott said she got the impression that Anderson was about to ask her to provide a credit card number, but he did not actually request one.
When Abbott declined to pay the fee, Anderson again told her that she had to pay $4 to receive the gift card.
Anderson allegedly repeated his claim several times, but Abbott interrupted him each time. Eventually, she thanked Anderson and hung up.
Abbott and her husband, JD Abbott, later went to the Ada Walmart to verify whether store officials had heard of the rebate program. A staffer told the Abbotts that the program was a scam that had emerged about six months ago.
The couple also reported the scam to the Ada post office, and a staffer told them the case would be turned over to the district’s postal inspector.
Ada postmaster Shawn Gibb confirmed that the post office has referred the case to the postal inspector.
Tips to help avoid being scammed
Be wary of telemarketing fraud if a telephone salesperson uses these or similar lines:
• You’ve won a free gift, vacation or prize, but you have to pay for postage and handling or other charges.
• You must act now, or the offer won’t be good.
• You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number or have a check picked up by courier.
• You can’t afford to miss this high-profit, no-risk officer.
If you hear these pitches, just say “No, thank you” and hang up.
Five tips for avoiding telemarketing fraud:
• Don’t buy products from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses understand that you want more information about their company and are happy to comply.
• Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is breaking federal law.
• Never respond to an offer you don’t understand thoroughly.
• Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers or Social Security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown people.
• If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local or federal law enforcement agencies.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation