Every day, people are taken advantage of by phone scammers. Scammers seize any opportunity to steal valuable information from their victims. Many people are unaware of how to distinguish a scam from trustworthy and legitimate callers. Currently, the best way to stop them is by giving them absolutely NO useful information.
Useful information is anything that is personal to you. Your date of birth, Social Security number, access to your computer or bank account information are all personal things you don’t normally share with people, especially strangers.
Identifying a Scam
It’s important to recognize when you’ve received a scam call. Telephone scammers are the most common. These scammers will use any phone number to trick you into answering their questions, including using local phone numbers.
Phone scams often use specific “traps” to get you to talk to them. Below is a list of the most common types of phone scams:
- Credit offers
- “Lower your interest rate” offers
- Debt Consolidation
- Computer Problems
- “You owe the IRS for back taxes”
Some of these services may appeal to you, but it is crucial to understand that these are sometimes not legitimate services. Scammers are hoping to obtain your social security number, credit card numbers, bank account information or even unrestricted remote access to your computer. If you are seeking financial services, seek them out yourself and use a reputable company. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT trust these callers.
How to Handle a Scam Call
There are many ways to handle scammers, depending on your level of dedication. Here are a few to consider:
- Hang up immediately, if you’re not expecting a call. If they say they’re from a particular company you commonly conduct business with, ask for a callback number and look up the number for that business and dial their direct number. Provide them with the phone number you were given and they should be able to tell you if the call was legitimate.
- Add your phone number to the national Do-Not-Call Registry. This is mostly going to stop organizations that respect FCC/FTC regulations. It can help to stop some unwanted phone calls, but not necessarily all of them, especially international scammers using local phone numbers. If you would like to learn more, visit their website: https://www.donotcall.gov/
- Request to be added to their do-not-call list. If the caller is associated with a legitimate organization, they should respect your wishes and stop calling you, but this is not always the case. Often times, they will hang up immediately and continue to call from other numbers. Additionally, some pre-recorded voice calls (Robocalls) will have an option to enter a number to be added to their do-not-call list. This option is required by US law, but many, if not, most illegal organizations are not in compliance with federal regulations.
- Waste their time. (Not recommended) If you’re absolutely convinced you have received a scam phone call, you can optionally convince them you’re interested in their offer and waste time they would otherwise spend scamming others. Tell them you don’t know where the information is and you’re looking for it. When they ask for any personal information at all, DO NOT GIVE IT TO THEM. Do not even confirm your real name or address. As soon as you’re satisfied with the amount of their time you’ve wasted, tell them to stop calling you, and you will likely hear some unkind words and/or an abrupt hang-up.