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Immigrant Community at Increased Risk of Scammers

Experts suggest sharing information on a suspicious call with a friend before you share any financial information. (uncoolbob/flickr)
Experts suggest sharing information on a suspicious call with a friend before you share any financial information. (uncoolbob/flickr)
March 15, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – New data from the Federal Trade Commission ranks Tennessee number 10 in the country when it comes to reports of fraud.

Last year consumers in the Volunteer State lost almost $14 million – with the top three complaints being scams surrounding debt collection, imposter scams and identify theft.

David Tarpley, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, says among the groups most vulnerable are immigrant communities in the state.

"They may not understand everything they're told, but they still go along with it,” he explains. “The other reason is they're not as used to the customs they'll encounter in the U.S., the way things are generally done and not done."

Thursday in Nashville, the Federal Trade Commission and Ethnic Media Services – a national organization – will gather law enforcement, members of the media, community advocates and consumers to discuss what people can do to protect themselves and their neighbors.

Experts advise against providing banking information to callers who claim to be from a bank or a creditor as this is not normal practice for legitimate agencies.

Monica Vaca, associate director of the FTC's Division of Consumer Response and Operations, says Tennessee is not unlike the rest of the country when it comes to the types of scams that are most popular.

"Not just in Tennessee but across the country, the number one thing we're hearing about are imposter scams, and what imposter scams are is when somebody, maybe they call you up or they contact you in some way and they tell you they're somebody they're not," she explains.

Vaca says don't let callers spur you into immediate action, regardless of what they claim the consequences are.

"Sometimes it sounds really scary,” she allows. “Sometimes it sounds like you're in trouble, or somebody else is in trouble.

“Take a moment, pause, talk to somebody about this call because sometimes just saying it out loud helps you realize that this is a scam."

Experts say you should be suspicious of callers who use threats of violence or harm, say they will publish a list of names of people who don't pay their debts, or use obscene language.

Memphis is listed as number 18 in the country when it comes to reports of fraud.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN