So you want to operate a phone scam

Isn’t there a better way? I’m so glad you asked, hypothetical and morally dubious, reader.

There is no shortage of people willing to tell you just how to get all the money with none of the work; these charlatans peddle whatever trendy tincture or tonic or phone app or low-calorie dessert they can find and hoist them upon an unsuspecting public that didn’t even know what a “goji berry” was until they found out they were going to die without drinking four glasses of goji juice a day.

These people are not to be emulated. If you spend your days chasing fad after fad you’ll never achieve the kind of financial success that only traditional entrepreneurship can offer.

And by “traditional entrepreneurship” I mean “phone scam.”

Is there a more time-honored tradition in the history of these United States than the phone scam? At least, in the post-phone period, anyway.

Now, I know nothing about how to operate a phone scam; fortunately my home has recently been the recipient of one very determined scammer’s efforts.

How determined? After returning from work on Saturday night I checked my often-neglected answering machine. Five new messages, all within a 20-minute period, all from the same caller.

Clearly, this scammer has it all figured out.

Using my scammer as a template, we can walk through the steps necessary to ensuring your financial freedom via telephonic fraud. Don’t worry, there aren’t too many steps; the last thing a potential phone scammer wants is to do a lot of “work.”

Step 1: Hamburglaring

Technically speaking, phone scams are highly illegal and punishable by incarceration and fines that put your student loan payments to shame.

So you’re going to need to look the part.

Gather a large reversible cloak (black and yellow), a Lone Ranger-style mask, a large brimmed black hat and, most importantly, a black and white horizontally striped jump suit.

I cannot stress the importance of the jump suit enough. If you’re not full-Hamburglaring by your first scam phone call you might as well throw in the towel and go get an “education” like a chump.

After your costume/uniform (costuniform) is complete, remember to surreptitiously glance over your shoulder every few minutes. That way anyone within eyesight can immediately tell that you are a high-powered criminal genius and must be taken seriously.

2: Robots = profit

With your costuniform ready the next step is getting a robot to make all the calls for you.

You didn’t think you’d have to actually sit there and dial all the numbers, then … TALK to the people on the other end? What is this, a job?

Head over to the least reputable website you know and start posting that you’re looking for an autodialer. Respond immediately to anyone that wants to set up a meeting.

The seasoned autodialer salesman will pick a safe spot for the exchange, like a police station. Don’t worry about law enforcement and agree to the meeting.

Remember what all those hippie lawyers have said for years: if they’re a cop they’re required to tell you, show up in uniform, and give you a solid 10 minute head start before any kind of “arrest” can legally occur. And hippies are never wrong about the criminal justice system.

Step 3: Script, script, script

Now comes the hardest part: writing the script for the robot.

This is your chance to be creative! Do you want to pretend the robot is some wayward grandchild requesting bail money with their only phone call? Sure, you can tap into that sweet, sweet Social Security money those greedy old people horde, but you’re limiting your pool of customer-victims.

Take a page from my scammer’s process and, instead of a familial ruse, opt for a mispronounced government agency without the proper prepositions.

My scammer elected to claim they were with “IRS” and “I owe money to IRS.” Brilliant. Since no one in the United States has ever said “IRS” without a preceding “The” you know that you’re dealing with an all-star team of international phone scammers that are collecting cash from scared citizens and mispronouncing government agencies all over the world!

Step 4: All the money

You’ve got your script, you’ve got your autodialer, you’ve been practicing your Hamburglar cape twirls and can do at least three in a row before falling down: now you’re ready to start making all the money!

But what to do once you have all the money? Your first thought may be “where can I keep all the money?”

Mattresses, coffee can in the back yard, a large sack with a dollar sign; these are all excellent choices. But to truly take that next step into the world of phone scammery, you’re going to want to keep all the money in a bank.

Won’t the bank get suspicious?

Look who thinks they’re the Pope of Phone Scams! Yes, go ahead and keep depositing the checks with “IRS” crudely drawn over to say “CASH.” The bank won’t have a problem, the police won’t have a problem, and “IRS” definitely won’t have a problem; my hippie lawyer told me so.

All that’s left to do is regularly check the bank records by showing the teller a photo ID at the same time, every day, at the same location and you’ll be gliding down easy street in no time! Working is for suckers!


Stop playing on my phone.


Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or

Safe Credit Solutions|The Key to Financial Freedom,credit counseling

A McKinney credit repair company has settled Federal Trade Commission charges that it profaned federal law by lying to credit bureaus and charging customers up-front fees before providing its services.

The judicial writ subsiding the FTC’s grievance for civil penalties, imposes a $ 2.35 million civil penalty against RMCN Credit Services INC. and house owners Doug and Julie Parker. The penalty are going to be partly suspended, supported associate degree inability to pay, when they pay $ 400,000 in 2 installments at intervals 9 months of once the court enters the order.

Debt Consolidation, Negotiation, or Elimination: Which Should You Choose?

As of the first quarter in 2017, American household debt topped $12 trillion. The main contributors to this debt are home mortgages, auto and student loans, plus credit card debt. With mounting debt and the lowest savings rate since 2005 of only 1.9%, many consumers are desperately searching for relief.

Ads, emails, robo-calls and online pop-ups bombard consumers with debt negotiation, consolidation, and elimination plans, often giving conflicting advice. So what is the difference between these three types of debt management plans?

Debt Negotiation/Settlement

Debt negotiation companies claim that they will negotiate with a consumer’s lenders to lower the total amount of debt owed for an upfront fee. Unfortunately, some consumers who paid for debt negotiation services found out that the company never contacted their lenders, but instead, took their money and ran.

Because the debt negotiation company made it sound like they had everything under control, the consumer stopped talking directly with their lenders and ended up slipping deeper into debt.

Also, in certain situations, debt negotiation may damage your credit further.

According to, “When you use one of these companies and then try to get a Conventional, FHA, or VA loan, you will be treated the same as if you had filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Mortgage underwriting guidelines for traditional mortgages will consider your credit trashed, so don’t do it. Real debt help is found only in changing your behavior.”

Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation companies offer to roll up various debts allowing the debtor to make one lower payment to the company, rather than many payments to the different lenders.

While debt consolidation can make paying monthly bills more manageable, some companies tack on high fees and charge exorbitant interest rates, which means the consumer is paying much more in the long run.

Debt Elimination

Companies that offer debt elimination rely on many different schemes but they all hinge on the notion that credit lines are illegal. Debt elimination companies typically provide, for an upfront fee, a document for the lender that supposedly absolves the consumer of the debt.

Unfortunately, the document has no bearing whatsoever on the debt owed and consumers paying for such services have found that they’ve wasted money on a debt elimination scheme that would have been better spent on actually paying back their debts.

Consider the following tips, before contacting a debt management company:

  • Stay in contact with lenders and try to work out a plan with them first before enlisting outside help.
  • Always check the company out first with BBB. BBB Business Profiles on debt negotiation, consolidation, and elimination companies are available online for free at
  • Best practice: Start with a bona fide credit counseling service. Credit counseling services are often nonprofits that offer financial guidance for a small fee, or even for free. Reputable credit counseling services will help you create a budget plus provide coaching and training on how to manage your finances.
  • There is no easy fix for reducing debt and any company that makes huge claims and guarantees, probably can’t deliver. Sources: BBB North Alabama,

For more details on consumer debt and advice on dealing with debt including how to manage a budget, go to Avoiding Debt-Relief Scams, The Truth about Debt Management, Microeconomic Data: Household Debt and Credit Report,’s Personal Finance Statistics.

Alsocheck out BBB Tips on Budgeting and Credit Counseling – BBB Tip: Create a Budget and Stick to It! and BBB Tip: Overwhelmed with Debt? Understand Your Options.

BBB New Release:Debt Consolidation, Negotiation, or Elimination: Which Should You Choose?

If you would like to report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, visit