Businesses Beware: Scammers Using TTY Service

By: Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

Texts, emails, phone calls; scammers have an arsenal of technology to use against us.

Now, they're using the TTY service, a phone system for the hearing impaired, to try and swindle West Texans out of money, but one Odessa woman is trying to put them out of business.

Calls constantly come in at Mark Knox Flowers, but now they're leery of scammers using the TTY system - a phone service to help the hearing impaired.

"I was suspicious at first when we first received the call for the dimensions and the amount of the bouquets that they were wanting," Manager, Nancy Wilson said.

Wilson listened to her gut and didn't fill the order. After some calls of her own, she learned the scammers were trying to swindle other West Texans.

"I went ahead and called Vivian's and Arlene's and sure enough that's when we all started talking about it and I thought, 'oh my gosh,' four flower shops in one town," Trish Powell, with the Better Business Bureau, said. "Then our Midland shop called around and almost of the shops over there had received them."

Most TTY scammers are easy to spot. They ask to talk to a manager or owner try to put in a large order, and in some cases, ask the store to pay for a private shipper.

The Better Business Bureau says these scammers don't discriminate.

"There is no specific type of business other than it is generally a retail product type business," Powell said. "We've also heard of restaurants being subject to the scam so there's really not a specific industry."

Wilson says knowing federal and state money helps pay for TTY calls, makes it even worse.

"Then it made me even really upset to find out we're footing the bill for all these calls," Wilson said.

But she won't stop taking them.

"We do have customers who are hearing impaired who call us," Wilson said. "So, we're not going to stop taking hearing impaired calls. In fact, if you don't, it's discrimination, so you can get in trouble. So we're going to just set a limit for business and if it's above that we need you to come in and verify your credit card and if it's a legitimate call, it won't be a problem."

If you think you've tangled with a scammer, there's many ways to report the incident.

We've included some of those sources in the news links section on our web site.