Phone scams are everywhere these days and they are getting better at disguising phone numbers to impersonate real companies, charities, and even the government.
Phone scammers scammed thousands of people in the last year alone, and that number is growing with each and every day. It can be dangerous to answer your phone if you don't recognize the number or even if the caller id says it's from a legitimate source. Take heed on numbers you may find suspicious and don't answer. Let them leave a voice mail instead, and then check with the business itself to see if the number they left is legitimate.
Common Scams to Watch Out For
Scams relating to the CVID-19 are the number one scam at the moment. Do not fall for offers that boast “at home test kits” or miracle cures. There are no such kits or cures, COVID -19 testing in an attempt to steal personal information, especially from Medicare recipients and the elderly.
Stimulus Checks to be sent out by the U.S. government
These scammers say they are from the government and ask for personal information, such as social security numbers, bank account information, and other personal details. They also claim you may have to pay a fee to receive your stimulus check. The government or IRS will never contact you by phone and request personal information.
FDIC and Bank Calls – Scammer will pretend to be calling from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or your bank. They will tell you that your bank account and/or your ability to get cash is in need of verification to get your personal information.
In most cases, your bank will not ask you these questions over the phone. Hang up and call your bank branch directly to verify whether or not it was a legitimate call if you have any questions.
Imposter Scams with Gift Cards
These are the number one scam reported in 2019. People reported losing more than $667 million dollars in that year alone. According to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) the median amount lost on these scams was $1000 per person. These imposters pretend to be calling from the government, a reputable business, a family member in an emergency, or even a romantic interest. These scammers will usually request that you go out and purchase gift cards and call back to give them the numbers on the back of the gift card.
Debt Collector Scams
These scammers report that they are from a debt collection agency. Then then demand payment for the debt. Actual debt collectors must be able to give you information that only you can verify. The name of the creditor is one they are required by law to let you know. Always ask for written verification of the debt by mail. They are required by law to provide you a copy within five days of the initial contact. They are phishing for you to provide them you bank account or credit card numbers to settle the debt.
How to Avoid Phone Scams
- As stated above, do not answer calls from unknown numbers. If you do happen to answer a call, remember to not press any numbers to speak to a representative Scammers often use this to identify possible victims. Hang up immediately.
- If you do answer a call because you can't tell right away. We wary. Caller ID can sometimes tell you it is a local call, but that doesn't mean it is actually a local call.
- Do not answer any questions. This especially applies to questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”.
- Always exercise caution. Especially if you are being pressured for personal information or if threats are used. Hang up immediately.
- Don't ever give out personal information. This includes Social Security numbers, your mother's maiden name, account numbers, passwords, or any other identifying information over the phone.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone company, make sure to set a password to lock it. Hackers can get into your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you don't set your own password. Avoid your passcodes that are your birthday, last four numbers of your social security number, anniversary dates, and other important numbers.
- Remember if you get a call from someone that says they represent a government agency or a specific company, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement. They will be able to verify if it was them calling you on a legitimate basis. You will usually get a statement in the mail before these companies resort to calling you. This is especially true if they are trying to collect a payment.
- Ask your phone company about call blocking tools they offer or apps that they recommend blocking all unwanted calls.
- To block unwanted telemarketing calls, register your number on the Do Not Call list, listed with the FCC. Report robocalling and these unsolicited calls, so they can add them to the Do Not Call list. It is a crime for telemarketing companies to violate the Do Not Call list.
There are too many phone scams to list them all in this post. But by researching this site, you will be able to avoid most, if not all of the latest scams. This website is written with the purpose of keeping consumers and people safe and scam free. It is a terrible thing to lose your hard-earned money to a scammer. Phone scams are everywhere, but by following the above steps you should be able to keep yourself and your wallet intact.