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I know that you have run articles about this over and over, but these scams just keep getting more and more sophisticated, and so I'd like you to put the word out again.

I just received a phone call from a Butte phone number, 494-8761. I answered, and this very sweet girl who spoke like she was from Montana said that she was calling from Credit Systems, and I had qualified for a credit card with a very low interest rate that could save me thousands of dollars in interest every year. She just needed to confirm some information to be sure that I still qualified.

When I told her that I was not interested, that we had a lot of credit cards with low interest rates, she could not get off the phone fast enough. I have never known a telemarketer to give up that easily -- usually you have to hang up on them.

Since it was a Butte phone number, I called the police because maybe it was a legitimate telemarketer, but the fact that she said goodbye and hung up so fast made me suspicious. And, I'm sure that she was about to have me confirm personal information.

The dispatcher told me that it was most probably a scam, because computer people can make any call look like came from any phone number. So it probably wasn't from a Butte phone at all. She said that most scams are from overseas, but this sweet-voiced person sounded as American as a next door neighbor in Butte.

Afterwards I realized that someone had told me about receiving a phone call from a doctor's office that turned out to be "You have won a cruise, all you need to do is send $10,000."

Shortly after tax time, someone from the IRS called me, and the IRS was about to file court papers against me. FORTUNATELY, I was not home and they left a message and a callback number. When I first listened to the message, I really panicked and started to call the number because it was so realistic and so convincing.

And then I remember chatting with someone who said that if they can record your voice saying certain words, they can then patch together something that makes it sound like you said something, and somehow they then scammed you for thousands of dollars.

And I know, in one part of my brain, that you should never give out personal information over the phone. But that is not what I was thinking about at all when I was answering the phone. Fortunately, this person hit on something that I had no interest in (another credit card), which is what protected me more than remembering not to give out personal information and to hang up as quickly as possible, saying as few words as possible. In fact, in being polite and explaining why I was not interested, I may have said too many of the right words for their purposes.

I don't even answer my phone anymore unless it is someone I know, or a Butte number, and sometimes a Montana number. I let it go to voicemail, and if they don't want to talk to me enough to leave a message, I don't want to talk to them at all.

This time I answered, and if I had been interested in a low-interest rate credit card, who knows what would have happened. So, I would like you to run yet another article on this topic. People are scammed out of so much money all the time. Before, they used to at least have to break into your home and find your valuables or your book of passwords. Now they can do everything over the phone and over the internet from anywhere, and apparently are so skillful that they can rarely be caught.

Thank you.

-- Jill Smith, Butte


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