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BBB warns of “Housewarming Gift” scam in OK

MOORE, Oklahoma (KFOR) – An Oklahoma man has a warning about something that has been popping up in many mailboxes lately. It appears to be an offer for a free gift to those who just moved into the neighborhood, but it’s more of a ruse.

People living in a new neighborhood in Moore recently received a small postcard welcoming them to the neighborhood and saying they should call a number and use a code to receive a housewarming gift – but it was closed nice to be true.

“I googled the number first. And the number was actually linked to a 2016 news article that said it was a scam,” said Skyler Tuter, who received the note.

Tuter decided to call the number to make sure.

“I just called the number out of morbid curiosity and it was redirected – I saw it on my phone and redirected from the 405 number it gave to a different area code and person who was different from the name , replied. And so it seemed more like a call center or some sort of sale,” Tuter said.

Tuter said he received the letter in the mail, which said, “Welcome to the neighborhood. I couldn’t get through to you on the phone to give you a housewarming gift. Please call me as soon as possible. If you cannot reach me, please leave your name and phone number and I will call you back. Ask for Michelle.”

Postcard to residents of Oklahoma
Image courtesy: Skyler Tuter

Tuter also happens to be a senior cybersecurity advisor at Trusted Security, and told News 4 it’s a long-standing data-gathering tactic.

He said by calling the number and using the code, you consent to companies starting to collect data about you.

“The code is actually an authorization for that person, saying you can collect my data without the person knowing that’s what it is.” You may have seen or heard a scam call that is an automated voice message that just says “Hello, hello”. And that person, it’s ads trying to get the victim to give verbal cues to say yes or no. And that can legally be a license to collect data from you,” Tuter said.

Kitt Letcher of Oklahoma’s Better Business Bureau said the scam is more widespread than meets the eye.

“It was like, ‘Here’s a housewarming gift for you as you’re moving into a new home’ — that jargon is very familiar and something we’ve definitely seen before,” said Kitt Letcher, BBB Serving Central Oklahoma President and CEO .

Tuter said several people in his neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods received the same message.

“I immediately posted on our Nextdoor Neighborhood app and got a bunch of replies saying a bunch of people in other neighborhoods are getting things like this too. And thankfully, a lot of them said they’d throw it away, and the rest of them were just, you know, grateful that someone called it out,” Tuter said.

So, as the old saying goes, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The BBB Serving Central Oklahoma said you can always check for scams here or report a scam on their site.

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