Investigators: Protecting yourself from scam callers after your money

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 9:42 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than one million reports of identity theft in 2021 and nearly 10,000 of those reports came from the Memphis area.

Identity thieves steal personal information to buy things with your credit cards or open up new cards in your name.

”I got a call as I was going into bible study,” said Ralph Thompson, pastor of New Sherron Baptist Church in Byhalia.

He thought the call was from AT&T.

”Yes, because I gave them my password because in order to get into my account, they said they needed my four-digit password. And I gave them my four-digit password and that’s when everything took a turn,” Thompson said.

It was an expensive turn. The caller was a scammer who used the pastor’s password to hack his phone, get his credit card info, and go on a shopping spree.

“They bought a drone. They bought some perfume. They bought some tennis shoes. They bought $9,000 in purchases,” said Thompson.

Daniel Irwin with the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South said never give out any kind of personal information over the phone, especially if you didn’t make the call.

”No one in this day and time is going to ask for your social security number over the phone. And if they do, it should be a big red flag. And again, if you didn’t initiate the contact, you can’t trust who’s on the other end,” Irwin warned.

Other red flags include new accounts opened without your knowledge. One big tip-off for ID theft is if you stop receiving certain bills or your bank statement This happens when scammers change the address on your bank account or credit card.

”I had to take time off work in order for me to be able to go to the police department,” said Thompson.

Thompson prayed for patience and for strength after finding out how time-consuming and difficult it is to clear your name and any bogus charges.

”It was hard. It was stressful. It was a lot going on at that time. I was at work stressing and I was at home stressing. I was trying to make sure nothing else would happen to my credit,” Thompson said.

The first step if you’ve become a victim of identity theft is to go to identitytheft.gov and report it to the FTC. Then follow the instructions.

”Part of that plan is contacting one of the three credit reporting bureaus to pull your credit to dispute anything that is inaccurate on your credit report. You can also put a freeze on your credit. It’s going to make it almost impossible for someone to open up anything in your name once your credit’s been frozen,” explained Irwin.

The three credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Irwin said everyone should make it a habit to check their credit report at least once a year to look for any irregularities.

”The sooner you check your credit and dispute something that’s inaccurate, the easier it’s going to be in the long run to get it resolved,” he said.

Thompson’s case is now wrapped up. All his passwords have been changed.

”I couldn’t help but shout,” he said. “I couldn’t help but shout because it was a relief once I got it all complete.”

This man of God is much wiser now to the ways of the wicked.

”As far as the people, all we can do is pray and pray that they have a change of heart and try to go out and make a living like everyone else,” Thompson said.

You can check your credit report with each of the three bureaus once per year for free. TO check your credit report, visit AnnualCreditReport.com.

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