Businesses Beware of TTY Scam

Jenny Fleming sells fountain pens online. She averages 2 to 5 sales a week. The pens sell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars, which is why she was so excited when she got a phone call a few months ago from a man in Georgia wanting a big order.

"I had a TTY operator call me and she said she had someone on the other line," she explains.

TTY is the system used by the deaf or hard of hearing to communicate over the phone.

"The gentleman at the other end was interested in about 6 pens," Jenny explains.

The order totaled 42 hundred dollars.

"I was of course excited. This was a new business. We had only been open a couple of months, so I was ecstatic," Jenny says.

But her excitement soon turned to dread when she learned the whole order was a scam. The customer was using a stolen credit card.

"We're hearing about this across the united states," says Kay Robinson of the Better Business Bureau. She says its an old scam taking on a new life.

Kay says scam artists pretend to be deaf, use TTY operators and stolen credit cards to make large orders. They play on your sympathies, hoping you'll process the order without checking the details, all the while swindling you out of big bucks.

"I think when you get a call from an operator helping a hearing impaired customer, you want to help and be accommodating. So often business owners bend over backwards for them," explain s Kay.

Before mailing out the order, Jenny tried to call the customer at home and learned he gave fake information. She now hopes others learn from her and don't make costly mistakes if a TTY operator ever calls them.

The BBB says if you get a call from a TTY operator about an order, always ask for the customer's full name, address and telephone number. Also, ask the customer to provide the name of the issuing bank and its "toll- free customer service number" found on the back of the card.