Watch Out for Telephone Scams

Internet fraud has grown significantly over the years. Yet, despite technology, good ‘ol telephone scams are still widely occurring. Charming scammers may masquerade as a bank rep, a government employee, a charity rep or any other type of commercial business. For instance, consider the widely spread jury duty and IRS phone scams.

All of these scams usually relate in some way to commit financial fraud, either through direct monetary theft or identity theft. Tips to protect yourself it is a good idea to know how to avoid telephone scams.

Screen incoming calls: Many scammers show up as “unknown” and “private” on caller ID, however, nowadays they can also spoof legitimate numbers, so it is important to be vigilant if you do answer the call. Screen calls if you can, the majority of scammers won’t leave a message. Additionally, this year there has been a huge surge of incoming calls that are spoofing local numbers. I made the mistake of picking one of these calls up thinking it was someone else and I hung up immediately and looked the number up online, coupled with who the person said she was and there was absolutely no such business. 

Safeguard your information: If someone calls you to solicit information, do not give them any details. Instead, hang up and call the agency back directly by looking up the number yourself. Never offer up any personal or financial details to an incoming caller. As mentioned above, chances are it isn’t even the business the caller is claiming to be. 

Be cautious with bank-related calls: A common scheme is that scammers will impersonate one of the well-known banks or credit card agencies on the odd chance the intended victim might have an account. Again, never give personal info to anyone that calls you. If the bank “calls”, look up the number or stop by a local branch to speak to someone you reach out to, never the other way around.

Don’t be pressured: Most scammers will try and pressure potential victims, playing on emotions to elicit the response they desire in order to commit fraud. This is a common social engineering tactic. They may threaten or offer an award, anything to get you to act quickly. Don’t fall for it, instead opt to verify independently.

Charities: Never send money to any charity until they have been checked out. If their reason for calling is truly altruistic, they will understand if you decide to check them out first and give you the necessary information to call back to make your donation.

Always check suspicious calls with the Better Business Bureau, state attorney general, the National Fraud Information Center, or other watchdog group. If you are alert to the types of scams that circulate, and are careful with sharing your personal information, you can avoid falling victim to one of these scams designed to take your money. 


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