Tuesday, January 25, 2022
The email from “Norton Protection” said I owed $999.99, which was “charged successfully and it will appear on your bank statement in 24 to 48 hours.” Although I have an account with a leading cybersecurity company, I’ve never paid that much for its products. To “cancel” the charge, I was instructed to call a number, conveniently highlighted in yellow.
All it took to bird-dog my fake debt email was a simple search-engine query of the invoice’s telephone number. It was based in Hawaii. Unfortunately, perhaps, for the real employees of Norton’s help desk, they are likely not stationed in the Aloha State.
In a nation swimming in real debt – with the average American owing an estimated $90,000 – it’s not surprising that “phantom debts” are one of the hottest scams.
Millions get ensnared in these ruses and unwittingly give up credit and banking information – especially as the hardships of the pandemic continue – which opens the door to mass fleecing. Phony debt cons top the list of most prevalent consumer scams, according to consumerfraudreporting.org. Some four out 10 of all consumer complaints are linked to these swindles, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
I got one of these fake debt notices. Highly annoying. It took several moments to figure out it might be fake.