Let's start out by stating the obvious:  There isn't a Molly and she doesn't work at Amazon.  Well - okay - maybe her name is Molly, but she certainly doesn't work for the popular online shopping website.  The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers about a new round of would-be phone scammers who are trying to solicit information from unsuspecting individuals.  And,  the scam seems to have made it's way to banks of phone numbers assigned out to Twin Ports residents.

The would-be scam works like this:  You get a phone call from an unfamiliar (or sometimes, unlisted) phone number.  When you answer the call there is usually a pause, followed by "Molly" introducing herself:  "Hi, this is Molly from Amazon.com. I want to speak with you about charges in the amount of (fill in the blank - usually a staggeringly-high dollar amount) to your Amazon account".  You're then prompted to press a number to talk to someone or a phone number is given to you to call back on.  Either of these options is a hazard waiting to happen.  Both of these options act to ease your comfort level.  The operator will even seem to have correct information about you that they're ready to share - again - a trick to ease your comfort level and make you assume that the call is legitimate.  Once they have your confidence, they'll start asking you to "confirm" information about yourself or "fill in" details to "assure that it's really your account they're talking about.  Once they have the details, it can be too late; you've provided them with the missing information they needed to assume your identity and your bank account(s).

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What's the best course of action in a situation like this?  Hang up - immediately.  And for sure don't ever give details about yourself.  Most companies and financial institutions have very-specific ways of reaching out to their customers; a large number will not reach out to you out of the blue.  Here are some additional tips:

  • Hang up and then think through what they're asking or telling you.  Do you really have an account with this company?  Does it warrant further action on your part?
  • If you're concerned, look into your own information to find a contact phone number (i.e. not one that the person on the phone has given you).  Then call that number you've obtained with your own methods to confirm that the call is a scam.
  • Report the calls to the phone company or to the police.
  • Or, report the scam the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.org.

From the looks of social media sites and from personal experience, the "$700 charges from Amazon" scam made the rounds in the Duluth-Superior area over the 4th of July weekend.  Some people reporting that they received 20-30 calls from "Molly" in a row.  It's that level of intensity from the would-be-scammer that also aims to "win over" a victim; they either want to make the calls stop or they believe that "it must be important and legitimate because they keep calling back."

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