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Scammers call Columbia woman nearly 40 times

Another scam is hitting Mid-Missouri with a promise of putting money into your bank account.

Earlier this week, a woman told Columbia police she got a phone call from an out of state number. When she picked up, a man told her she was qualified for a loan and money would be put into her account.

The woman did not give the caller any of her personal information and told him not to call anymore. But police say she got 37 more phone calls from out-of-state phone numbers.

Columbia police said they do not know the time span of when the 37 calls took place. But Mike Harrison with the Mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau said regardless, that is almost unheard of.

“At BBB, I’ve never heard of that many phone calls coming in from one phone number, or various phone numbers,” Harrison said. “Thirty-seven is a lot of phone calls and we’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Harrison said the woman did the right thing not to give out her personal information, as a bank would never call and say you are qualified for a loan you never applied for.

“No entity, no bank, no agency is going to call you unsolicited like that and say you’ve won either a lottery, or you have a government grant, or you have qualified for a loan,” Harrison said. “They’re not going to do that. So if you get a phone call like that, hang up the phone.”

Columbia police said they are not sure if all calls were from the same person. Harrison said a scammer can generate multiple different out-of-state numbers with a computer program.

“They can make phone calls, thousands in an hour, hundreds in a minute, and so they will continue to call until somebody picks up the phone,” Harrison said.

Harrison said registering your phone on the Attorney General’s “Do Not Call List” will not stop scammers from calling you. But there are a few things you can do.

“Call the telephone company or your cell phone provider,” Harrison said. “Let them know what’s going on, provide the phone numbers to them in hopes that they can block those phone numbers for you. Another thing as well is on your cell phone, there settings where you can block certain numbers. And there are third party applications as well.”

Columbia police also said use an answering machine to screen your calls, or do not pick up unfamiliar numbers at all. If you do pick up and think it may be a scam, hang up right away.

If you think you may be a victim of a scam, you can call the Mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau or the state Attorney General’s Office to file a complaint.

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