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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: How scammers get your information

By Tyler Russell BBB Northwest and Pacific

Getting calls or emails from scammers is commonplace these days. For many, the frustration revolves around how these people get their number or email?

Unfortunately, these scammers have many ways to get personal information. Lately, one of the primary ways is through data breaches. And as we continue to see company and organizations hacked, the likelihood of becoming a victim growing greater.

Following these breaches, consumers have reached out to the BBB with reports of con artists calling them. The scammer pretends to be from a the retailer, their bank or credit card issuer, saying the person’s card was compromised and suggesting actions to “fix” the problem. Unfortunately, the scammers are using information derived from the data breach to convince consumers they are the real deal. The BBB urges victims of data breaches to be aware of the calls they receive and suggests proactively reaching out to bank and credit card companies.

Also, when answering a scam call, realize the person on the other end is listening for clues to further target victims. They’ll try to determine a person’s age, if they have kids or pets, or live in the city –anything to further the scam. BBB advises consumers to just hang up, because staying on the line increases the chance of receiving more calls in the future.

While a data breach is an illegal way for scammers to get your information, there are legal ways to go about it as well. Many public records are available at the federal, state, county and city levels, including census data, property information, criminal records, bankruptcies and tax liens. Private companies can pull all this personal information together and sell it to anyone. And it’s 100 percent legal. That’s why it’s important to be skeptical when approached about an account or when people seek personal information by phone or email.

The most important thing consumers can do is guard their information. The BBB wants people to think of their information as if it is money: value and protect it. Be careful what sites you visit and be sure you are on a legitimate site before entering personal information. Also think of the information you put on social media, whether it’s your birthday, your address or even things you like. It all can be used to target you.

For more information on how to protect yourself and your personal information go to

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