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Immigrant Community Increasingly Targeted by Scammers

Experts suggest sharing information about a suspicious call with a friend before you share any financial information. (Sam Carpenter/Flickr)
Experts suggest sharing information about a suspicious call with a friend before you share any financial information. (Sam Carpenter/Flickr)
March 16, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. – Scammers are targeting North Carolinians, with the state ranking 16th in the country for numbers of scam reports to the Federal Trade Commission. While older people have long been assumed to be targets of con artists, consumer advocates say immigrants also are falling victim to crimes like identity theft and imposter phone calls and emails.

Attorney David Tarpley says scammers know they're dealing with people who aren't familiar with how things are done in this country.

"They may not understand everything they're told, but they still go along with it,” says Tarpley. “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."

Debt collection scams, identity theft and imposter scams top the list of complaints in the Tar Heel State. Charlotte, Fayetteville and Greensboro have the highest number of reports.

Experts advise against providing personal identifying 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 Division of Consumer Response and Operations with the Federal Trade Commission, advises against letting any caller spur you into immediate action, regardless of what they claim the consequences are.

"Sometimes it sounds really scary,” says Vaca. “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."

She also cautions people to 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. And reporting these instances can help authorities track scammers and warn others about them. One place to start is the state attorney general's consumer protection hotline, at 877-5-NO SCAM. (877-566-7226)

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC