Cox Alerts Michigan to "Consumer Rewards Network" Telemarketing Scam Using Wal-Mart's Name
July 14, 2005
LANSING -- Attorney General Mike Cox warned consumers today about telemarketers targeting Michigan residents offering Wal-Mart shopping spree vouchers as a fraudulent way to obtain consumers’ information and authorization to withdraw money from their bank accounts. “I implore Michigan residents to resist, under all circumstances, providing personal information to someone you don’t know who calls on the telephone,” said Cox. “Time is of the essence in stopping this scam before many are victimized and therefore, I ask anyone targeted to contact my Consumer Protection Division immediately.”
A detailed Consumer Alert on this matter is available on the Attorney General's Web site, www.michigan.gov/ag, or by calling toll-free at 1-877-765-8388.
Complaints received by Cox’s office evidence several calls to Michigan residents whereby telemarketers offer consumers vouchers worth up to $500. In return, the consumer agrees to pay a $4.95 shipping and handling fee. Consumers who surrender their account information later discover unauthorized withdrawals associated with “Mega Movie Club, Net4Ever, and Health Network Unlimited.” A statement on Wal-Mart’s Web site indicates these calls are a “scam.”
Initial complaints indicate the withdrawals are coming in the form of demand drafts, sometimes also called a “telecheck” or a “phone-check.” These checks do not have to be signed by an account holder and instead indicate “signature not required” or a similar message in the authorized signature area. Generally banks cash them just like valid, signed checks. Complaints from other states suggest the callers may also be asking for credit card information.
Consumers who fall victim to this scam should immediately call their bank, explain the circumstances, and ask them to take all necessary steps to block unauthorized withdrawals. Consumers should then follow up the call with a visit to the bank and written notification, keeping a copy of the written notification.
Michigan consumers who have received these calls or provided account information are encouraged to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. Victims are asked to provide proof of the unauthorized charges (copies of the demand drafts or credit card statements). All who complain are asked to indicate whether the number called is on the FTC’s national Do Not Call Registry.
Complaints may be filed online at www.michigan.gov/ag, by calling toll-free 1-877-765-8388, or writing to: Consumer Protection Division, P.O. Box 30213-7713, Lansing, MI 48909.
During 2003 and 2004, the Consumer Protection Division collected more than $600 million on behalf of Michigan. In 2004, the Division stopped more than $400 million in utility rate increases and responded to more than 102,000 consumer complaints.
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