During the past 2 months I have received approximately 10 calls from the same phone number to my cell phone. Each caller advised me that he or she was calling about my American Express Account ending in 000. Since I consider myself to be pretty savvy I knew that American Express did not make such calls and that these calls were bogus. My cell phone recorded the calls as coming from 727-541-0001. Naturally I refused to give the callers any information and in fact I tried to get information from them, to no avail. They just hung up. I also called them back on the number they called from immediately after the call ended. Each time I received a recorded message that the number was disconnected.
I went to the American Express Web Site to search for a place to report these calls. The closest I could come was a link asking cardholders to report internet phishing, but no link for reporting phishing phone calls. So I reported it on the internet phishing link and then to my amazement I received a phone call from American Express telling me that I was reporting this to the wrong department. When I asked them to transfer me or direct me to the right department, one perhaps that might be investigating these phony calls, I was told they did not have one! I then tried calling the American Express Executive Offices in New York to report the calls and ask them why they didn’t have someone tracking down these crooks. I called 3 times and could never get past the operator. Each time she kept telling me that she could not put me through unless she knew what the call was about. Whenever I mentioned the word card she transferred me to the credit card center where they handle general calls such as getting a credit card, canceling a credit card or making a payment.
Then I got a brilliant idea. I went to the FBI web site where I found a place to report a tip about a crime, or at least that’s what I thought. So I reported the phone calls and left the phone number each of the phony calls were made from. Within one minute after sending my tip I received a call back from THE FBI! They wanted me to know that the tip form I had used was to report terrorists, not credit card crooks. But they were very nice and we had a good discussion during which I learned two very interesting things. First, that they could not find the crooks from the phone number I gave them. They said it was not as simple as it looks on TV. Second, that unless I actually lost money to the crooks they, nor any other law enforcement agency, could investigate. I had to lose money first. When I asked how much, I was told a minimum of $25,000.
So, if you are an old fashioned crook still using guns or knives, or if you are just breaking into homes and businesses, stop! Do not put yourself at risk. The police and FBI may chase after you. Play it safe. Pick up the phone and call strangers and ask them to give you their credit card or other financial information. To increase your odds of success buy a list of elderly peoples phone numbers. You can get these from list brokers for less than a penny per name. But be careful; don’t take more than $25,000 from each person you call!