Telephone fraud is one of widely known forms of fraud in the world. In this article we’re going to take a look at some of the more prominent scams, warning signs, and how to avoid becoming a victim yourself. In this day and age, scammers aren’t out to just try and make a few quick bucks. They want your bank account, your credit card numbers, and your identity. They are out to clean you out of everything you own, and exhaust every line of credit available to you. In short, these scammers can ruin your entire life, clean you out financially, and leave you debt ridden with credit problems for years to come.
QUICK RUNDOWN OF PROMINENT PHONE SCAMS
Foreign Lotteries: A very common mail scam has also made it’s way to the telephones. You are asked to participate in, or even told that you’ve won a foreign lottery. You will typically be asked to provide checking account numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers, or other personal information. Participating in a foreign lottery is illegal in the United States.
Veterans Scam: Many veterans of the Armed Forces received phone calls stating that their had been changes to the VA medical plans, and that in order to continue to receive coverage they would need to submit their personal information for verification purposes. Their where of course no changes to the medical plans, and the callers where clearly trying to trick veterans into supplying their personal information.
Stolen Account Numbers: The most common form of this scam is the victim receives a phone call from a person claiming to work for a security firm at the victims bank. The caller will claim that the victims bank account numbers have appeared on the internet. In order to get the personal information out of public view, the victim will need to verify their account information.
College Credit Card Offer: A very widespread scam on college campuses world wide where the victim receives a call claiming they are eligible for a special deal on a college credit card. They are asked to submit personal information over the phone so that the application can be immediately processed.
Gift Certificate Scam: This is a scam where the victim is told that they have won a $500 gift certificate from a major retailer. All they have to do is pay a small “processing fee” over the phone with their credit card.
Medicare Part-D: This scam involves tricking seniors into signing up for a bogus Medicare plan. The victims are duped into providing personal information over the telephone.
Jury Duty: Another very common scam where the caller is told that they have missed jury duty and now have a warrant issued for their arrest. When the caller denies ever receiving a summons for jury duty, the scammer will ask for personal information to verify that they are talking to the correct individual.
Government Grants: Without a doubt one of the most prominent scams in the US and throughout the world. The victim is told that they have been awarded a large sum of money in the form of a Government Grant. In order to collect the money, they need to pay the taxes first. The victim would then be asked for a credit card number or to wire the funds into an account in order to pay the taxes.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE POTENTIAL PHONE SCAMS
Avoiding becoming a victim of telephone scams is really just a matter of common sense. If the caller is making high pressure statements such as:
- “You have to act right now…”
- “You can’t pass up on this zero risk investment”
- “There’s no time to contact your spouse/attorney/better business bureau…”
These and other high pressure tactics in order to extract information from you should be an immediate warning sign to just say “no” and hang up the phone. If the caller is from a legitimate company, they will have absolutely no problem with you taking the extra time to do your research and find out if they are in fact legitimate or not.
ADDITIONAL PREVENTION TIPS
- Request the information in writing about any specific charity or offer. Review the material, but keep in mind that just because it’s in writing doesn’t make it true.Always do your homework on unknown companies. Contact your Better Business Bureau, Local Fraud Information Center, local consumer protection agencies, and any other applicable sources of information.
- Ask for your sales persons information. His name, his company, the company telephone number, mailing address, and business license information. Once this information is provided to you, verify that it is accurate. Many scammers will happily provide you with fake information.
- If you are being solicited to give money to charity, ask what percentage of your donation actually goes the charity, and what percentage goes to administrative costs and other fees.
- Never act impulsively. Take the time to think about the offer, and make an informed decision. Making a decision on the fly is a recipe for disaster.
- If an offer sounds too good to be true it most likely is. People don’t receive free money from the government without applying for a grant. People don’t win lotteries that they never entered. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s most likely a scam.
- Be extremely wary of giving important information out over the telephone. If the caller is asking for a credit card, bank account, social security number or any other important personal information, make absolutely sure that the caller is from a legitimate business before giving this information out.
- If you believe that someone is attempting to defraud you, report it to law enforcement agencies immediately.
A little bit of common sense can go a long way in protecting yourself from becoming a victim of phone scams. The next time you receive a phone call that sounds suspicious, stop and think to yourself. “What’s going to be more difficult in the long run, taking the time to research this offer and company, or having my financial information or entire identity stolen?” The answer is clear. Take the extra time to protect yourself from becoming a victim.