We continue to receive multiple calls weekly reporting scam phone messages being left for our residents. These are the most common phone scams out there:
1. Free Vacations and Prizes
“Congratulations! You’ve won a free cruise to the Bahamas! To claim your reward…” Chances are, like most things, this is too good to be true. The free prize, Disney trip, Caribbean cruise, dream vacation, etc. is a common scam. What you’ve won might change, but the scammers still want the same thing: your personal info and money.
A major red flag to watch out for with these free trips/reward scams is if they ask you to first pay a small fee in order to collect your prize. If you’ve won something then you shouldn’t have to pay for it.
2. Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are usually carried out via email or websites, but there are also phishing calls that try to convince you that there’s an issue with your computer. These scammers will make you think that your computer and privacy is at risk to get information out of you, or to get you to download malicious software that can steal your information.
Most companies like Microsoft won’t call you out of the blue. If you do get a call where a person is saying that you’re at risk, ask them for their information and say that you’ll call back. Once you’ve hung up you can check with the company they said they were calling from to see if there really is an issue with your computer.
3. Loan Scams
What do auto loan, student loan, small business loan and payday loan phone calls all have in common? They’re all typically scams.
Whenever you get a cold call it’s smart to be suspicious, especially when they are offering you money and asking for information. If you feel that you’ve gotten a call from a loan scammer you can file a report with the FTC and get yourself on the FTC do not call list.
4. Phony Debt Collectors
Equally annoying to loan scammers, but a bit more discouraging because of the threats they can make, phony debt collectors can be a serious problem. If you get a call from a debt collector ask for their name, number and company information, then end the call. After this you can check with your creditor about the calls to verify if the debt collector is real.
The FTC gives excellent guidelines on what to do if you’re being harassed by fraudulent debt collectors. The number one thing to do is not give any of your personal information out. After that ask for the caller’s information and that the caller send you written notice of your debt.
Interesting fact: If you send a written letter asking a debt collector to stop calling you, they can no longer legally call you.
5. Fake Charities
Sadly, some people feel they have nothing better to do than pose as fake charities and scam people out of money. One of the most common fundraiser telephone scams involve people pretending to collect money for local police and fire departments.
Before you give out any personal information or even think about making a donation ask for the caller’s information and the details of the charity, then hang up. After you get off the call check with your local police or fire department to see if they really are using callers to raise money.
It’s not just fake police and fire department funds that will call though. Recently, the FTC filed a civil complaint against four supposed cancer charities. These charities stole nearly $200 million from Americans, their success in large part was due to aggressive telemarketing tactics.
Before you decide to donate it’s always a good idea to do some information digging to make sure you know where your money is going. There are websites, like the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, that can help you check out charities to make sure they’re legitimate. To learn more about fake charity scams check CallerSmart’s 5 simple ways to protect against charity scams.
6. Medical Alert/Scams Targeting Seniors
Seniors are especially vulnerable to phone scams because scammers usually target them the most. One of the most common scams that aims to con seniors are free medical alert system offers. Much like the free giveaway scams, medical alert scams ask for personal information.
It’s best to just hang up on these callers whether they’re offering free medical systems, discounted prescriptions, or making threats. If the DEA really had a warrant out on you they wouldn’t be calling you about it, but this is a very common type of scam aimed at making people panic and react quickly.
7. Warrant Threats
Similar to the IRS scam, calls threatening that you’ll be arrested can be really stressful. They are designed to make people panic. You or someone you know might have received phone calls from someone claiming to be the sheriff’s department, or DEA, or even the FBI. When you get calls like this don’t trust them.
CallerSmart provides instructions on how to block calls on your iPhone.
Remember that law enforcement will never call to demand you to send them money.
8. IRS Calls
The most common and publicized of phone scams is the IRS scam. Robo dialers call thousands of people daily trying to catch them in this scam.
These scammers can be incredibly convincing as they often know your name and the last 4 digits of your social security. However, the real IRS will never request immediate payment from you over the phone, CallerSmart also has five easy steps to help you identify IRS scam calls. If you think you’ve been contacted by an IRS scammer you should call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484.
These are the 8 most common scams that we’ve come across, but we are sure that there are more out there and new ones will continue to pop up. The best thing that you can do is stay educated, warn others out there about scam callers, and report them to the FTC.