Recognizing a Phone Scam

June 23,2022
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The local news is full of warnings about scams that can steal your money. While a lot of stories focus on ways criminals can take your money online, many of them are still focused on tricking you when you pick up the phone. Study up and do what you can to avoid telephone scams.

Know who’s calling

One way you can avoid scam and spam calls is to sign up for a caller ID service. If you see a phone number you don’t recognize, let the call go to voicemail instead of talking to the person or robot on the other end.

This is a start toward protecting yourself against phone scam, but you should still be aware that thieves have the technology to make it look like a call is coming from a different phone number. It’s a practice called spoofing, and the Federal Communications Commission reports that sometimes bad actors use numbers to make it look like the call is coming from a government agency, like the IRS. You should still use caller ID, but take any information from it with a grain of salt.

Don’t cave to pressure

A common tactic in phone scams is to try and scare you into acting quickly. The criminal pretends to be a government agency and threatens to arrest you. The Federal Trade Commission offers assurance that “real law enforcement and federal agencies won’t call and threaten you.” The scammers are hoping that you panic and force you to follow their directions.

Don’t give out account numbers or passwords

Because of spoofing and scams, you can’t trust the person on the other end of the phone when they say that they’re from your bank or a utility. If they ask you for personal information like your account number, password, or PIN, AARP says to not give it out. Hang up, and if you are worried that the real company is trying to get a hold of you, look up a real phone number on their website or your bills and call them back. In general, companies usually never ask you to supply login information over the phone.

Don’t say “yes”

If you pick up the phone and you’re not sure who you’re talking to, avoid saying the word “yes,” especially if the voice asks if you can hear them. Some experts are worried that scammers could be recording your voice and use it later to say you authorized a charge to your account.

If you do say “yes,” don’t panic. Matt Elliott of CNET.com reports that the BBB received complaints about the scam, but none of the complainants so far had actually lost any money. Just continue to monitor your bank accounts and credit cards as you would normally.

The world of phone scams is constantly changing, but these tips are a great place to start so you avoid losing money. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s best to be cautious and not answer questions on the other end of the line.
by CU Members

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