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Consumer Beware

SCAMMER ALERT!! FROM KENDRA NORMAN HOLMES: I want to share this experience I had yesterday in hopes of heightening everyone's awareness. I called AAA to have a car moved for my daughter and son-in-law on yesterday. I called the number that is listed on my Premier Membership card. A man answered, and I was immediately thrown off--not because he had a heavy accent, but because he answered with "How may I help you?" It wasn't prefaced by "Thank you for calling AAA" or anything else that identified the company.


My response was, "Is this AAA?" He said it was and I proceeded to tell him that I needed towing services. He got my AAA card number, asked me a few other questions, and then he said, "Okay, we'll get a service call in. I just need your debit card number so that we can charge you the $1.25 service fee." I told him that I'd never had to pay anything for a tow before. He went on to explain to me that the $1.25 was a nominal fee that AAA began charging as of last month for service calls, and then he asked for my debit card number again.


It just didn't set well in my spirit, and I said to him, "This doesn't sound right to me, so just disregard the call. I'll call back again and talk with someone else." While I was speaking, he began talking over me, saying, "Ma'am! Ma'am! Ma'am!" And then he said, "It's only $1.25, and it's a new policy that was just put in place in February; that's why you haven't heard about it before now. If you hang up and call back, you'll be put to the back of the line and have to wait for an available person to talk to. And when you finally get through, they're just going to tell you the same thing I did."


My reply was, "That's fine. I'll still call back. Thank you." and I hung up. I waited about 10 minutes, and then I dialed the same number from the card again. This time the prompts I was given were different, and when the lady answered, the first thing she did was identify the company before asking how she could assist. I gave her all the information and together, she and I set up the order for the towing. She never asked for my debit card number and she never mentioned a $1.25 service fee.


When she and I were finished talking business, I told her what had happened just a few minutes earlier. She informed me that I was not the first person to call and tell them that. Somehow, scammers are now able to intercept service calls when you dial an authentic number. They don't necessarily know what company line they are intercepting, so they don't identify the company by name, they just ask what they can to do assist you.


Once they determine what company you called, they then pretend to be an employee of that company. They will either ask for your SS# or your debit card number and if it's information that the company typically doesn't request, the scammers will give a believable reason why they need it.


She said if I'd given the imposter my debit card info, he probably would have emptied my account. Quoting such a minimal amount was supposed to make me feel comfortable with paying the fee, thereby giving him my debit number. And saying that the fee was just implemented last month was supposed to remove any suspicions about the fact that I'd not heard about it before.


I shared this experience to let everyone know that it's important to be aware. Scammers are now intercepting the calls you make to real companies. it's a bit scary to know that they have now discovered ways to do this. I am so glad that I listened to the voice of Holy Spirit within me, because although this man sounded very believable, it just wouldn't set well with me.

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