Winter is not a time when con artists hibernate. Here are the top scam calls you may receive during winter, so be vigilant and stay safe!
Scammers are keeping an eye on the weather reports and getting ready for storms just like you are, and they plan to surprise you.
Unauthorized contractors and con artists may call as you prepare for winter, offering to check your furnace, fix your leaky roof, or clean your heating ducts. They'll add snow and ice removal to their list once winter arrives. However, occasionally they fall short of expectations and may take your money and run, leaving some or all of the work undone.
1. Top Scam Calls in Winter: Utility Scam Calls
Scammers may assume your utility company's identity since they know that severe weather may have cut off your electricity, heat, and water. They may call to apologize for your power outage and offer you a reimbursement, but they need your bank account details first.
They may call you to inform you that there is a problem with their system and that you must provide personal data before they can restart your gas. They might even threaten to turn off your utilities if you don't send them money immediately. However, they are all lies.
2. Charity Scam Calls
Charity calls generally have a positive impact. You can donate money to a worthy cause, and many charitable organizations use your contributions to change the world.
However, making charitable contributions over the phone has drawbacks. When Christmastime arrives, we're more susceptible to emotional manipulation, and charity callers know this.
3. Fake Gift Card Offers
Scammers know how alluring the possibility of receiving something for nothing is. Therefore, they disguise their true identities behind well-known brands (like Amazon) and claim to be giving you a gift card.
They might say something like this:
"Take a chance and use our gift card; as a bonus, we will deliver your order free of charge. You have been given a gift card for $250. The offer of the gift card is valid until December 7."
However, as soon as you click the link to claim your "gift card," malware is downloaded to your phone instead.
Now what? You should always buy gift cards from reliable retailers. Better yet, obtain them directly from the retailer and request that they scan the card to verify that the balance is accurate.
4. Fake FBI Scam Calls
Scammers in this situation typically pose as government representatives and demand money using coercive methods like the threat of arrest. It appears to be a real FBI call, but it's probably a scam.
Scammers are using spoofing techniques, and it's even more crucial to remember that the honest FBI will never threaten you over the phone.
5. FTC Refund Calls
Scammers frequently use the names of actual FTC employees while claiming to be from the FTC's Refund Department or Refund Division. They make contact with the victim and promise to find any lost money. The victim must, however, first pay them, provide them with personal information, or grant them remote access to a computer.
On the other hand, the actual FTC never charges fees or requests personal data like your Social Security number or bank account information. Additionally, the FTC will never request remote access to your computer. It is a scam if someone makes a false claim to represent the FTC.
6. Scam Calls From the "IRS"
Telephone scammers who impersonate IRS agents are more common during tax season. They speak with authority and may even provide a badge number. They might threaten legal action or imply that the police are about to arrest if payment is not made immediately.
First of all, the IRS will not call you. This is a clear sign that it is a hoax. Additionally, they occasionally request gift cards as payment, which is something the IRS would never do. The IRS rarely calls and sends a letter to establish contact before demanding payment.
7. Lottery Scams
Don't believe it if you receive a call claiming that you have been chosen at random to win a foreign lottery. These calls are fake, and you can tell because they usually claim that you must pay taxes or other government fees to receive your winnings.
8. Bank Scam Calls
Criminals occasionally adopt an excellent persona. You may warn customers over the phone about possible bank account fraud. As the conversation progresses, they ask for private information like passwords and bank account numbers.
Don't tell anyone who calls you this information. Instead, hang up. To confirm the legitimacy of the call:
- Get in touch with your institution directly after that.
- Never use a number provided by an unidentified caller or voicemail.
- Use the phone number for your neighborhood branch.
9. Insurance, Health Care & Debt Scam Calls
Con artists pretend to sell vehicle warranties, offer loans for debt consolidation, or verify health insurance information in similar phone scams. Avoid making purchases over the phone unless you make the call yourself. It is advised.
Additionally, watch out for people posing as health insurance agents and making debt consolidation offers to gather the information they can use for identity theft. Medicare won't get in touch with you, just like the IRS. If someone calls pretending to be from your health insurance company, it is best to hang up and call the number listed on your insurance card.
10. Technical Support Scam Calls
The caller in this scam typically says they are from a reputable company, like Microsoft or Apple, and that they have found an error on the victim's computer. After that, they will "correct" the situation by leading the victim through several steps.
Unknowingly, the user installs software that enables system takeover or gives the caller remote access to the user's device. Scammers use it to download ransomware, which encrypts files and demands a ransom payment to unlock them.
Given that the elderly lack technological know-how, the situation is ideal for elder abuse. Younger people might find Microsoft's phone calls suspicious, but the elderly might be more accepting. These calls are always fake, just like in the IRS case. Neither Microsoft nor other tech companies.
We are all thinking about how much more it will cost to stay warm this year due to inflation and rising energy prices. Getting top scam calls in winter with a suggestion to lower your utility bill can feel like winning the savings lottery.
Be aware that some offers could be scams before you say "yes." Because they want your money and personal information, they will leave you outside in the cold.
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.