NAPA, Calif. (KGO) --A new survey out shows phone scams are costing Americans billions of dollars a year. And as we know, they always increase after a natural disaster, such as the Napa earthquake. 7 On Your Side shares this important warning.
The Napa quake has bad guys around the world gearing up to rip you off. So here's some advice to make sure you are not taken in.
You have to be pretty hard-hearted not to be moved by the pictures of the destruction and damage in the quake-torn area. It is easy to see how lives have been disrupted and donations are needed.
Consumer activist, Bill Gephardt, from BillTV.com says check before you give.
"Aren't you already getting the phone calls from these weirdos who claim that the money you give will go to help these people? Here's the rule that I always live by: anyone who calls me up asking for money, they never get it," Gephardt said.
He says you should call the charity you want to give to.
Phone fraud is exploding and it is not just because of the quake. A survey conducted by the Harris Poll for True Caller finds 17.5 million Americans lost an estimated $8.5 billion to phone fraud over the past year alone. The average loss is just shy of $500.00.
This guy doesn't want me to use his name, but he posted on my Facebook page about the fraudster who called him.
The quake wasn't mentioned, but they tried to get him to pay a fake bill.
"She was fishing for information, basically. She had a very stern voice, 'Well, that is why we are going after you and if you have a lawyer, then we should talk to your lawyer. Have them contact us.' Certain things to try and scare you into basically agreeing that it is a debt that you have."
If you're looking to give to victims of the South Napa earthquake, check out our Give Where You Live page here.