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Phone Scams

Although money lost through phone fraud is often nonrefundable once sent, there are ways to consistently and reliably protect oneself. Abiding by the following preventative tips can save money and avert the disastrous consequences of falling victim to phone scams.

 

Here are some Useful Tips

1) Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Let it go to voicemail even if the number is local.

2) Never give personal or financial information over the phone to incoming unsolicited callers.

3) Remember that government organizations, such as the IRS, will not demand payment over the phone and will contact you by mail first. 

4) Reputable companies will not scare you into paying a debt over the phone.

5) If you are unsure whether you have paid a bill, hang up, check if you have, and then give the company a call after looking up their number.

 

Also, Keep in Mind ...

1) If a recording instructs you to push a button, hang up.

2) Look into robocall blocking services.

3) If you are told to provide certain personal information because you won something, it is likely a scam.

4) Register yourself on the National Do Not Call Registry. This may prevent some telemarketing robocalls, but will not hinder most scammers. 

5) Watch out for fake charities asking for money, especially after a disaster, or for “too good to be true” investment opportunities.

 

Phone Scam FAQs (+)

What are phone scams?

Phone scams are unsolicited calls to consumers that intend to acquire personal information, financial information, or payment through illicit means such as deceit and lies.

Are these real people or robots?

Phone scams can be either, or a combination of both. It is therefore prudent to have your guard up.

While not all phone scams use robocalls, and not all robocalls are phone scams, the two are linked. Being more aware of and preventing robocalls could help limit the scale and feasibility of phone scams in general.

What are robocalls?

Robocalls are prerecorded messages that are transmitted to a large number of people through automatic dialing technology. While robocalls are not inherently scams, many scammers do use robocalls to reach out to as many people as possible. Scammers use a combination of a live caller and a robocall to enact their scheme. For example, a robocall with a prerecorded message can reach out to many people and a live scammer will talk to those who answer, call back, or press a button.

Who is at risk to them?

Anyone is a potential target. Typically, it is assumed that the elderly are the primary victims of fraudulent calls. Surprisingly, data shows that it is actually millennials, especially millennial men, who are the most at risk of falling victim to these scams. Ultimately, even if certain groups may be more likely to fall victim to phone fraud, just about all demographics and age groups are targeted.  

What if a call comes from a reputable company or number?

Robocall technology also helps scammers customize their caller ID and number, a practice known as “spoofing”, which allows them to seem local and more trustworthy.

How many people actually lose money?

Unfortunately, these scams have a huge reach. It was estimated that approximately 21 million people lost a total sum of $9.5 billion last year. In reality, it is likely that many more people are contacted by fraudulent callers, but are able to escape the conversation without being scammed.