News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 9 to 10 a.m.
Crime & Justice

Watch out, Chinese speakers, you're the target of a new phone scam




iStockphoto

Listen to story

04:41
Download this story 4.0MB

读中文版点这里

Chinese speakers are the target of a new phone scam sweeping the country. Victims get an automated message from a woman speaking in Mandarin who claims to be from the Chinese Consulate.

The voice warns that if action isn't taken – either to pick up a package from a consulate office, or to give personal information to a phone operator – then your rights to travel abroad to and from the U.S. will be in jeopardy.

"They're trying to capture people's credit card or bank account information or their sensitive personal information," warns Patti Poss with the Federal Trade Commission. "Do not respond to these scams. If it came through the phone, hang up."

Who is the target?

You do not have to speak Chinese to get these phone calls.

But Poss warns that scammers will cast a wide net among consumers in hopes that one will fall for their tricks.

Probably the best 'customer' for a scammer is someone who's caught off guard when hearing from a person claiming to be an official or authority figure.

Who is behind the scam?

The FTC does not currently know who is the culprit behind these calls.

But this call is very similar to others that the FTC is tracking, where scammers will impersonate official agencies to steal personal information or more.

What should you do if you get this call?

Hang up. Do not respond to it.

Visit the FTC's website to file a complaint, too.

"We don't respond to every report that we get, but that information goes into our [database] which is used by law enforcement all over the country," says Poss.

If you still believe you need to reach the Chinese consulate, don't respond to the automated message – just call the consulate's L.A. office directly at (213) 807-8088 or visit their website.