Every phone owner has been the target of phone scams at some point or the other. If you’re lucky, you probably haven’t been scammed out of your money. Many people have lost money to clever telephone scammers and fraudsters. These scammers behave in a very friendly way, and sweet talk their victims convincingly and manage to extract information or money out of them. In this digital age, information is a valuable asset, so you should never divulge personal information over the phone. Take a look at some common phone scams and ways for avoiding phone scams.
Best ways for avoiding phone scams
The best way to protect yourself from telephone fraud is not to give in to the sweet talk and the pressure fraudsters put on you to reveal your personal information, such as debit/credit card numbers etc.
How spamsters get hold of phone numbers
Sometimes phone scammers just dial your number at random. Landline and mobile numbers are obtained by technology firms and other organizations and these organizations sell them to legal and illegal callers. Call list collector companies make thousands of dollars by scraping the net for numbers revealed by people on social media accounts.
Many callers ensure that their numbers are spoofed, i.e. a different number is shown on screen, which is not the number they are calling from. By the way, if you happen to answer a spam call, your chances of receiving more such calls increase by almost 40%!
One of the ways for avoiding phone scams is to block spam numbers using the default call block functionality which is in-built into Android and iPhones. However, even this does not deter many spammers, and they keep calling from other masked numbers.
Common phone scams
Text message scam
In this type of scam, you may receive a text which makes you think it is from your friend. If you happen to call or text the number, you are charged a high fee. Another text scam makes it seem that it’s from your bank. It may push your panic buttons saying that your account has been attacked. If you respond to the site or number given, the scammers can get access to your bank account information. For avoiding phone scams like this one, keep a steady head and call the verified bank phone numbers and find out if your account has been tampered with.
The 1-ring scam
You might get just one ring from numbers having area codes 268, 809, 876, 473, 284. If you call back you will be charged a hefty US$19.95 and a $US9 fee minute rate. So if you get a single phone call from an unknown area code, never call back!
Recorded message scams
This is similar to the one ring phone scam, but instead of a ring you will get a voicemail informing you that you have just won a huge prize. One of the tricks to protect yourself from telephone fraud is not to call the number given.
The IRS scam
Phone scammers know how to manipulate you emotionally. Fear is an emotion which they tap into. For example, you may get a call from people pretending to be IRS, warning that it is your final notice to pay your taxes. The IRS fear may prompt you to deposit your tax amount into the bank account they mention.
But don’t lose your head at the name of IRS – always remember that the IRS’s first contact is always through mail. If you want to verify the call you received, call the IRS directly and find out if you do have any ending tax, before making any money transaction. This is one of the ways for avoiding phone scams, no matter how serious it sounds.
Tech support scam
These scammers try to get control of your computer, by saying they are calling on behalf of a tech giant such as Microsoft. But you will never receive a call from these companies unless you have asked for tech support.
Phone insurance, ransomware scams, cloning and subscriber fraud are some other scams you have to be wary of.
How to reduce scam calls
One of the simplest ways to stop spam calls is to absolutely avoid picking up unknown numbers. If the call is genuine, then the caller will message or email you. You can complain about the number in 800Notes, CallerComplaints and WhoCalledUs. Using Trapcall can unmask the caller Id and you can try the Do Not Call List to stop spam calls.
How to avoid being a victim of phone scams
Phone scam con artists play upon your fear, greed and generosity. These emotions can make you blind to warning signs or your ‘gut instinct’.
Always use authorized apps
Always make financial transactions using the official apps or sites of your bank and always remember to log out. In this way, even if your phone is stolen, your data cannot be accessed. Of course, never store your bank passwords and ids on the phone. One of the best ways for avoiding phone scams is to be always cautious and careful. Download games from official app stores like the Apple or Google App Store and Android Market. Also be careful while giving permissions at the time of installation.
Use passwords to activate your phone, as scammers will not be able to gain your personal information.
Dispose your phone responsibly
If you dispose your phone or iPad or other digital device, you should make sure that you reset the device to factory settings and remove all personal data. Remove microSD cards also.
What to do if you have been phone scammed
In case you become a phone scam victim, immediately report a number or the number of the caller to the FTC. It may take time, but you will get results eventually. You should also notify your phone service provider and official authorities. If you’re in Britain you can report a number to the Action Fraud or PhonePayPlus websites or call them.
Install spam call blocking apps
These apps such as TrapCall, identify and block spam callers, even if they may be calling from any part of the globe.
Most phone scams rely on the people revealing data on their own, out of fear or due to the convincing nature of the scam. Just by being a bit more careful, you can avoid being a victim of phone scams.