Threats with your social security number and lookalike legalese entangles unsuspectingBy Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller
If you can’t make sense of the grammar (phrasing, spelling, words), it’s probably a fraud.
The email Ray Dutton of Nampa received on Wednesday seemed ominous at most, and laughable at least.
“Is this real,” he asked. “I mean, Holland and Hart is right here in Boise.”
The email reads:
“Let me introduce myself. I am a Senior Attorney Adam Thomas from Holland And Hart Associates. As we were trying to reach you since a couple of days regarding a very serious matter about a lawsuit filed on your name stating that you are doing some fraud and Civil litigations.
“I am really very sorry to say you that you are going to be legally prosecuted in the Court House within couple of days. Your SSN is put on hold by US Government, so before something goes wrong I thought that I shall call you and notify you about this matter. But as I was not able to reach you I am sending you a final notification Email. So please take a piece of paper and write down your case file Case No#20239 and second thing since it’s a legal matter you will be needed my help, so please write down my callback number is (202) 239 2635 Ext 108 For the records you.”
My first response is simple. If Mr. Adam Thomas was indeed an attorney with a nationwide firm like Holland & Hart Associates, I pray he is not an Idaho or Concordia graduate.
Here’s some key points to remember:
- Don’t believe what you see. As in the example above, scammers can easily copy a real business’ email address, colors, and even logo.
- Watch for poor grammar and spelling. Scam emails often are riddled with typos. Awkward capitalizations, punctuations, sentence structures, lack of punctuation, altered or strange verb conjugations and pronoun mistakes.
- Corporate names and addresses in your area. Scammers often provide addresses that make it seem to be an area or regional source. Everything’s on the Internet…
- Ignore calls for immediate action. Scam emails try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency. Don’t fall for it.
- Hover over links to check their source. Place your mouse over hyper-linked text and the true destination will appear.
- Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. As always, do not click on links or open the files in unfamiliar emails.
- Beware of pop-ups. Some pop-ups are designed to look like they’ve originated from your computer. If you see a pop-up that warns of a problem that needs to be fixed with an extreme level of urgency, it may be a scam.
If you see your social security number in an email, threatening legal action against you, you may be asking how they got a hold of it. BBB has received reports of some companies selling lists of names, addresses, email addresses and social security numbers to scammers.
Retrace your Internet history – did you apply for a job online? mortgage? payday loan? fill out a questionnaire? a survey? a free offer?
Think about Phone calls? – Did someone ask you to confirm your social security number?
And, finally, if you did apply for a loan, contact one of the three credit bureaus – equifax.com, experian.com, transunion.com – or visit annualcreditreport.com to see if your credit report shows harmful activity.