While telephone scams are nothing new, they are always being adapted in order to maintain their efficacy. We would all like to believe that we’re immune from such fraud, but are we really? Scammers are excellent actors and they know how to build rapport and trust with their victims. In this article, I’ll provide you with some information and tips that could save you from becoming another victim of telephone scams.
Let’s start off with the ultimate tip to avoiding telephone scams: don’t give out: credit card numbers, social security numbers, PINs, or any other information about yourself, and especially if you didn’t initiate the phone call. Be aware that not all telephone scammers will overtly request a money transfer or credit card number. Other, seemingly insignificant information about you can be just as valuable to them.
While I can’t possibly cover every tactic used in telephone scams, but here are some examples of things to look out for in order to protect yourself.
1. The caller may ask you to verify some information for them in the hope that you’ll tell them the information. They may even attempt to manipulate you into disclosing personal information by telling you something like a false Social Security Number in the hope that you’ll correct them with your real one.
2. Another tactic is for scammers to seek small bits of information from you, over a period of time. The goal is to eventually get enough information from you to commit whatever fraud that they were planning. One way in which this is done is by the scammers calling and identifying themselves as a different agency each time they call.
3. Ever have your phone ring just once and then no one is there? That may have been a scam that bets on the liklihood that the receiver will look at their caller ID and call back to find out who called. However, when the person calls, they’ll get connected to a “premium number” and billed very high rates.
4. Calls from technical support companies. This scam exploits fear. Often, they’ll start by telling you that they can “see” your computer and there’s something seriously wrong with it. Then they’ll attempt to convince you to let them connect to your computer remotely. If you do, then they now have access to all of your private information.
5. Calls from government officials or agencies. They’ll tell you that you missed a jury duty appointment or that you owe taxes. Or perhaps they’ll ask you to confirm personal info with them, like your SS#. Then they may become hostile and threaten you with an arrest warrant unless you somehow transfer money to them.
Remember, if the caller is pushy or tries to pressure you, don’t be afraid to just hang up the phone. The caller will just move on to their next potential victim.
For more tips, check out: http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/