Atlanta CBOs join fight against fraud

Consumer Action's trainers went to Atlanta, GA to hold a training on credit card fraud and other scams.
Published: Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Phishing, pharming, and triangulation. These were among the scams that Atlanta-area community groups learned about during Consumer Action’s anti-fraud train-the-trainer roundtable in November. As the list of scams that fraudsters perpetrate seems to grow longer and sounds more frightful each day, some people might prefer to close their eyes and cover their ears rather than see or hear the details of a scam with a name like triangulation. (Triangulation combines ID theft, credit card fraud and Internet auction fraud to victimize online merchants and buyers by reselling goods online that were purchased elsewhere online with a stolen credit card.) The faint-of-heart, however, were not among the attendees at the Atlanta training. Everyone was eager to find out about how to prevent scams and how to help victims. Participants were thankful to learn that steps could be taken to avoid and survive even the scariest of scams. Nelson Santiago, one of Consumer Action’s Los Angeles-based community outreach managers, launched the training with a discussion based on the Credit Card Fraud module. Santiago described how participants could use the module’s client brochure; leader’s training manual, seminar lesson plan, and PowerPoint slides to provide their own credit card fraud presentation to agency clients. While reviewing the module’s substantive material, Santiago explained the creative and sneaky ways that crooks use to obtain consumers’ credit card information to carry out fraud. Then, in a hands-on exercise led by Santiago, participants tested their ability to “catch phish.” The activity, “Something’s Phishy,” is part of the module and features print-outs of several sample e-mail messages that ask recipients to take such steps as transferring a credit card balance or donating to a disaster relief effort. The key to the educational game is to spot the “phish” or fraudulent message that contains a dangerous link or button. Outreach and Training Director Mikael Wagner led the afternoon session focusing on the identity theft portion of the module. Wagner emphasized that identity thieves can perpetrate more than just credit card scams. He explained, for example, that criminals have used their victims’ identities to collect Social Security benefits and public assistance. Participants became particularly engaged as they exchanged stories of identity theft cases in which family members and friends had been the offender. Wagner also detailed the circumstances that can make senior citizens more vulnerable to fraud. In addition to the free materials that participants received during the training, they took away a long list of resources shared by Wagner. Before attending the training, many participants did not know where, besides a credit report, consumers can check to see if they’ve become victims of identity theft. Wagner provided information on how to obtain “specialty reports” that can help determine if a thief has ever obtained medical services, housing, or other services as part of an identity theft scheme. By the end of the training, participants were not only prepared to teach their clients about credit card fraud and identity theft, they had also benefited from the opportunity to network with others in the same line of work. The interactive session of introductions, the team-based learning activities, the participant roster received by everyone in attendance, and the technical assistance offered to participants will help ensure that the Atlanta-area groups become part of the larger effort to protect U.S. consumers against fraud. The Consumer Action fraud roundtable was one in a series offered in partnership with Washington Mutual (WAMU). Community-based organizations and non-profits that join Consumer Action’s network will receive bulk order forms for our free multilingual publications and training guides as well as invitations to nearby training events. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)



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