Our partners at WAGA Fox 5’s I-Team in Atlanta report on a reassigned toll-free number that has been catching consumers in Georgia by surprise.  Years ago, Georgia’s Department of Driver Services discontinued its toll-free number as a measure to save consumers money, but since then a scammer has acquired the number.  When someone calls the number, they now get a message indicating that the menu options have changed and that the caller is eligible to claim a financial reward.  The Fox 5 I-Team got to listen to a representative from the state’s consumer protection division.  While the caller asked several times if this was the Department of Driver Services, the person he spoke to on the other end never clearly said “no.”  They just kept steering the conversation toward redeeming rewards, promising to direct him to the correct people once that was finished.  In order to redeem the rewards, the scammer said they would need to pay a small “registration fee,” which required a credit card number.  That should be the signal for anyone to spot a scam and hang up the phone.  While the Department of Driver Services no longer lists this toll-free number on their website, many unaffiliated sites are out of date and show the old number.

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SOMOS, the registration management company that the FCC has appointed to handle toll-free numbers, is aware of the issue and is developing procedures to ensure scammers don’t use their services to pose as another entity and defraud consumers.  For example, it has implemented a 45-day waiting period before toll-free numbers are reassigned.  Here are some things you can do to protect yourself and stop these scams:

  • When you want to call a company or organization, get the phone number directly from the website of the entity you’re trying to call (or at least go to their site to verify one you’ve seen listed elsewhere).
  • If you find a third party has listed the wrong toll-free number for a company or organization you’re trying to call, notify the third-party to have the incorrect information taken down.
  • You can also submit a compliant to the FCC if someone is using a toll-free number for a scam.  That form can be found here.
  • The FTC also takes complaints for scams at www.ftc.gov/complaint.