Scammers are hoping to trick people into thinking they've won the lottery or have been injured in a car accident this holiday season. It's also a time when they'll try to get you to pay money for things like medical bills, debt relief and life insurance. Here's what some of these scam calls look like:
1. IRS Scam Calls
During tax season, scammers who pretend to be IRS officials are more prevalent. The scammer will generally sound authoritative and may even provide a badge number to gain the victim's trust. If payment is not received immediately, they threaten legal action or imply that police are on their way for further intimidation.
The IRS will not call to demand money—that is a strong indicator that it's a scam. If you receive such a phone call, hang up immediately and report the incident to the police. Additionally, suppose they want payment in gift cards or other non-traditional currency (such as iTunes credits).
In that case, that's another red flag. Usually, when dealing with taxes, their preferred method is via check or credit card over telephone communication.
2. Bank Scam Calls
Fraudsters masquerade as good Samaritans, calling consumers to warn them about fraud in their bank accounts. As the conversation develops, these criminals request sensitive information from unsuspecting listeners, such as account numbers and passwords. If you receive a call from someone who asks for this information, do not give it. Instead, hang up the phone.
Then, contact your institution directly. Do not use any number given to you by an unknown individual over the phone or voicemail. Always call the local branch using their listed telephone number.
3. Fake Charity Scam Calls
After natural disasters or other tragedies, charity fraud is common. These criminals rely on the willingness of individuals to assist those in need and exploit this goodwill for personal gain.
4. Insurance, Health Care & Debt Scam Calls
In various similar phone scams, con artists attempt to sell vehicle warranties and debt consolidation loans. If you do receive a call from someone offering these services, it is advised that you end the conversation as quickly as possible. Beware of debt consolidation offers, which often confuse consumers and lead them to use costly forms of credit.
Similar to the IRS, Medicare will not call you directly. If a caller claims to be with Medicare and asks for personal information or threatens legal action if he is ignored, hang up immediately and contact your state's insurance department or attorney general's office. They'll know how to respond.
5. Lottery Scams
Do not believe it if you get a call saying that you have been randomly selected to win a foreign lottery. These calls are fake, and the tipoff is that they will say you need to pay taxes or other government fees to collect your “winnings.” Ask yourself why you are paying for something offered at no charge.
6. Family Members in Peril
In these scam calls, someone phones an older person—a grandmother or grandfather. They tell Granny that something terrible has happened to them and ask for money immediately so the family member can be rescued from a dire situation.
If a caller claims to be a family member in a difficult situation, call the person they say they are. If you cannot reach them directly or if another friend or family member cannot confirm their whereabouts, dial 911 immediately
If a family member is in legal trouble, contact the courts or police station. When relatives ask you for money, be wary. Most of the time, it's just another scam.
7. Website Password Requests Scam Calls
Swindlers can try to access your Internet accounts under various guises, such as pretending their call is about technical help or investigating fraud. They may even ask for your password to "authenticate" who you are.
You should never be asked to provide your password over the phone. There is no valid justification for this, and doing so could compromise your account.
8. Technical Support Scam Calls
In this scam, the caller claims to be from a reputable organization—like Microsoft or Apple—and says they have identified a computer problem on yours. The scammer will then coach the victim through several actions, which unknowingly installs software that gives them remote access to their device or facilitates a system takeover.
Scammers use your personal information to steal from you or install ransomware that encrypts files and demands a ransom before unlocking them. It is ripe for elder abuse since the elderly lack technical expertise and may be more receptive to phone calls from Microsoft than younger individuals.
Like the IRS scam, these calls are always a hoax. Microsoft and other technology companies do not make unsolicited phone calls offering help with your computer or Internet connection.
9. Fake Customer Scam Calls
Small businesses must also be on guard against fraud and train their employees to recognize attempts at swindling. Swindlers will call pretending to be clients. They often have urgent matters that need prompt attention and request money transfers.
Employees should always authenticate someone's identity when they're unsure who the person is. For example, by confirming that a customer did indeed talk with an office employee over the phone or via email.
10. Other Urgent Requests
Although scam callers constantly change their tactics, one thread remains constant. They try to create a sense of urgency to trick people into buying shoddy products or giving away personal information. People who demand immediate payment or action on the phone may not be legitimate.
If you are the victim of a scam call this holiday season, it can still be difficult to recover your money. You should file a police report and tell your bank about what happened. In addition, you should contact Experian, Equifax and TransUnion to request that fraud safeguards be added to your credit reports if your Social Security number has been stolen.
A call blocker device is strongly recommended to block spam calls. Our call blockers are meant to keep you and your family safe from unwanted phone calls and give you peace of mind at home. Browse our products, or get in touch with us so we can help you.