3OYS Alert: Toll-free number scam warning

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Terri Robinson owns a business called Ambrosia Floral Boutique in Chandler. She has a great location and has maintained steady customers for years. But like any business, she's always looking for new customers, which is why she has a toll-free number.

"We have people from all over the country who call us," Robinson said. "We even get calls from Afghanistan."

Robinson's toll-free number has worked out well, until recently when she discovered a scammer actually stole her number. How? Well, the scammer contacted Robinson's phone company and asked all toll-free calls to be forwarded to another line.

"So, instead of ringing here in the shop like it normally does, it was ringing at someone's house in California and that person actually pretended to be a florist," Robinson said.

And as a result, Robinson says consumers gave up their credit card information to the scammer.

She said she knew something was wrong when customers started calling her and asking, "Why didn't you deliver the flowers we ordered and paid for?"
"And we couldn't figure it out," Robinson said. "We were like, 'Did you call another flower shop or what?'"
Robinson said she eventually realized the clever scam, contacted her phone company and made sure her toll-free customers were not forwarded again.

In the meantime, she said she's lost revenue and customers who used her toll-free number were ripped off. As a result, Robinson has established a password with her phone company meaning if there are any changes ever made to her account, she has to give the correct password.
"And I didn't know that it was that easy so I suggest anyone that is in business to call their phone provider and get that password set up," she said.

3 On Your Side has reached out to several phone companies, which all recommend a password for telephone accounts. If you haven't established one yet, this news report is a good reminder to consider it.