Last Updated on April 27, 2019Home » Blog » Personal Safety and Security » Fraud and Scams »
10 Common Phone Scams
Every single year, thousands of Americans are fooled by phone scams. Some people lose a few hundred dollars, some are conned into parting with their life savings. Scammers will go to great lengths to gain your confidence. Some will say you have won a prize. Some will prey on your generosity by claiming to be raising funds for a charity. Others will claim to be your bank or the IRS. What all phone scammers are trying to do is get your money or steal your identity. According to a Harris poll, one in ten Americans lost money in phone scams in the twelve months to April 2017. The average amount of money lost to phone scams was $430. To help you avoid becoming a phone scam victim, here are the top phone scams to watch out for.
1. Free Vacation
Great news! You have been selected to be the winner of our free vacation prize draw! This free vacation phone scam is quite common. After the scammer has got you excited at the prospect of going on the vacation of a lifetime, they will mention that you need to pay for airport tax or a small admin fee. For that, of course, they will need your credit card details. The only person going a vacation will be the scammer.
2. IRS Scams
If you receive a call from the IRS demanding you pay money right there and then, don’t fall for it. The IRS does not demand money over the phone. They will write to you if you owe them money. Phone scammers can be very sophisticated with scam calls like these. The caller may even show up as the IRS on your phone. IRS phone scams are on the increase, so watch out for this one, especially around tax season.
3. Charitable Donations
Scammers will even use disasters to make money. They will phone people asking for emergency disaster relief donations. If you want to donate to a charity, make your donation on the charity’s official website and only donate to charities that you know do a good job. If anyone calls you asking you for a donation, don’t give them your card details. Call the official appeal telephone number yourself or visit the official website.
4. Auto Warranties and Auto Insurance Scams
Another common phone scam involves targeting vehicle owners. You might receive a call from someone claiming to be from a car dealer or an auto insurer. These people may even have found out what type of car you own to make the call sound more believable. The scammer will tell you that your auto warranty or insurance is about to lapse and ask you to renew it on the phone.
5. Reduce Your Electricity Bill
If you get a call promising you cheaper electricity, be careful. It could be a scam. The caller will probably tell you that this is a time-limited offer. You need to sign up now, or you will miss the chance. Don’t give them any personal information, and don’t pay them anything. Call your electricity company direct and ask them how you can save money on your electricity.
6. Government Grants
Victims of this telephone scam are told they are due to receive a government grant. This might be because you paid your taxes on time. Or the scammer might say that you are eligible for a home improvement grant or an educational grant. Some people have been charged hundreds of dollars in “processing fees” for these so-called grants. Of course, there is no grant. It’ just another scam.
7. Bank Scams
In the case of bank scams, the caller will say they are calling from your bank. The Scammers may have already obtained some of your banking details from other sources. They will tell you that a lock has been placed on your account or your credit card has been placed on hold. They will say that this has been done as a security precaution. All they need to unlock your account is your PIN number, internet banking password, or other personal details. Don’t fall for it. Banks don’t ask for this type of information over the phone.
8. Home Security Systems
Scammers will often play on your fears. For example, IRS scammers will tell you if you don’t pay them now, you could go to jail. Similar fear tactics are used to get people to sign up for what appear to be free home security systems. The caller will tell you that there have been lots of burglaries in your area. When the security system is installed, it will be a very cheap one. But, by signing up for the security system, you will have also agreed to a very expensive long-term monitoring service.
9. Loan Scams
The offer of lower interest rates on your loans may seem appealing. But don’t supply any financial information to a caller unless you are 100% sure who you are talking to. In this case, someone will call offering you lower repayments on your loans if you re-finance them. To “assess your eligibility”, they will ask you lots of personal financial questions. They will then use that information for fraudulent purposes. Another finance phone scam is where people pretend to debt collectors. People who have taken out payday loans are often the targets of this scam. They get threatened with “pay now or face the consequences” phone calls. They pay the money by card on the phone and then find out later that they still owe the real lender.
10. Scams on the Elderly
Preying on older and vulnerable people is despicable, but it is also very common. Scammers will phone senior citizens about all kinds of things, such as funeral plans and burial plots, medical insurance, and anti-ageing potions. Scammers will try to get seniors to sign contracts for expensive things they don’t need. Or they will be trying to get bank and credit card details.
If you think you are too smart to get scammed, think again. Scammers are getting increasingly sophisticated and sneaky. Sometimes, even the best of us can get caught off guard. When you are running late for work, the kids are playing up, or you have something cooking on the stove, you might provide the information a scammer is after without even realizing it. If you receive any unsolicited calls that sound suspicious, hang up. Don’t engage with the caller and don’t provide any personal information. If you think you have been the victim of a phone scam, tell the police and / or file a complaint with the FTC.
Thanks for reading this post on phone scams. We hope that you found it useful. If you did, please share it with your friends on social media. Then, more people will know a phone scam when they hear one. If you are going on vacation soon, you may also be interested in these ten common tourist scams. If you’d like to receive updates from us, please sign up to our mailing list. Thanks again for visiting Best Panic Alarm. Have a great and safe day!