With so many ways to transmit information and so many incentives to do so, our modern day is something of a golden age for scammers. Several common scams may trouble you at any time, including phone scams, where someone calls to attempt to extract important information from you. Here are some phone scams to look out for.
An old classic among phone scams, the free prize con sees the scammer telling the recipient of the call that they have won some sort of free trip or valuable consumer good. In order to facilitate the receipt of the prize, the scammer claims to need personal info, which they can then use to falsely open credit accounts and make orders in your name. Never give out important information to people who have called you, instead offering to call them back after you’ve had time to investigate the legitimacy of their claims. And try to avoid saying “yes” to things as much as possible, as a voice recording of you consenting can be used to order certain goods.
The modern political climate makes immigration a hot-button issue, and people tend to react with fear at the prospect of facing INS officers or the like. Some scammers like to target people with claims that they are calling from immigration offices, either to verify the recipient’s legal status or to check up on a supposed identity theft. In either case, they are likely to ask for important identifying details like social security numbers and driver’s license numbers. Real immigration officers are far more likely to conduct important business in person than over the phone.
Few government institutions are capable of instilling as much fear in people as the Internal Revenue Service, the tax-collecting arm of the U.S. government. Investigations by the IRS into individual or business returns carry a connotation of punishment, making people more likely to just pay rather than risk jail time.Photo via Flickr
However, the real IRS is unlikely to make a phone call and even less likely to demand immediate payment or unusual payment forms, as many scammers do. If you have real concerns as to your tax status, you can contact the IRS yourself to verify your liability.
Medical Alerts Calls
Health is a sensitive issue for many people. After all, our health is a major subject for worry, especially as we grow older. Phone scammers thrive on using people’s anxieties against them, so it should be no surprise that many of them pose as medical providers when trying to get information and money from the unsuspecting. These kinds of scammers are more likely to target seniors. Keep some simple rules in mind: First, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Second, don’t agree to anything over the phone; instead, ask for names and web addresses and check if the service is legitimate.
Although identity theft is a growing problem, the tools to resist it are growing more sophisticated as well. But the best defense against scams, now as much as before, is knowledge of current scams combined with common sense.