Q: I received a sweepstakes offer with the title “Sweepstakes Audit Bureau” which offered $12,000,000. The entry data claim form requested that I send a $5 fee for Research and Data Processing. I have never heard of this sweepstakes and especially one asking for money so I believe this was a scam. Am I correct?
Answer: Anytime you are asked to send money to receive a prize, it’s a scam, according to the Better Business Bureau of Central and Northwest North Carolina.
Lechelle Yates of the BBB also had some information about the Sweepstakes Audit Bureau.
“We are reporting that the company is part of a larger business, Emerson Publishing. Emerson has earned an F rating with BBB, in part for not modifying all their advertising to meet the BBB Code of Advertising.
“Based on the ad review, they’ve been using the same advertising you received for 12 years.”
For more information about the BBB’s file on Emerson, go to www.bbb.org/us/tx/dallas/profile/sweepstakes/emerson-publishing-inc-0875-37006684.
Q: I’m tired of getting unwanted phone calls, either robo or spam calls. What can we do? Is there no help?
Answer: The first option is to sign up for the Do Not Call Registry. You can get to it on the Federal Trade Commission’s website, FTC.gov, but because many of the scammers are offshore, it won’t stop them. For that, you might want to consider call-blocking technology. The FTC explains that the type of phone you have — traditional landline, mobile, or a home phone using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) — will determine the type of technology you’ll need.
The FTC said: “Many cell phones come with menu options that let you block calls from specific numbers, though there might be a limit to how many numbers you can block. Mobile phones also typically have features like Do Not Disturb, where you can set hours during which calls will go straight to voicemail.”
You can also download an app to block calls. The major service providers have spam/call blocking services provided in every plan.
For a few dollars per month per line, you can get an upgraded package. Check with your provider for details.
For traditional landlines, the FTC recommends a call-blocking device. “If your home phone is a traditional landline that doesn’t use the internet (VoIP), you can buy and install a call-blocking device. Call-blocking devices are typically small boxes you attach to your phone. Some devices use databases of known scam numbers but let you add numbers you want blocked. Other devices rely on you to create and update your own of numbers to block.”
Check with your provider for their recommendations.
For people using VoIP, built-in call-blocking features are probably in the settings for the device. Again, check with your provider for specific questions.
One last way to deal with unwanted/unknown callers, regardless of the device you have, is don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number. If the caller leaves a message, you can decide if it’s a legitimate call and return it; if they don’t leave a message, figure it’s a robo or spam call.
Melissa Hall: My 5 favorite columns and articles of 2021
My five most memorable columns and articles of 2021
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Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101
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