The digital age, but the phone is still the weapon of choice for crooks
Source: AARP Release Time: 01:34:29 2020-01-23
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 940,000 fraud complaints in 2018, of which contact information was found, and 69% of calls were scammers. The US Federal Trade Commission reports that the average loss for a phone scam in 2018 was $ 840, more than double the average loss for all types of fraud. New technology has made this illegal work easier. With an auto-dial program, suspicious operators can spend thousands of dollars per day to explode thousands of robocalls. Out-of-the-box spoofing tools can trick your caller ID into showing a real government or company phone number, or show a local phone number, increasing your chances of receiving calls.
Whether real-time or automatic, scam callers often impersonate government agencies or representatives of familiar technology, travel, retail, or financial companies, allegedly providing important information. This may be good news. (You are eligible for a generous cash reward! You have been pre-selected for this great vacation offer!) This can be bad. (You owe taxes. There is a problem with your credit card account. Your computer is infected with the virus you heard.) No matter what the problem is, if you just want to provide social security, you can fix it. Or pay now.
Phone scammers can also impersonate charitable fundraisers or even grandchildren and use your generosity or family bonds to share your money. And, like the rest of us, they are growing rapidly. According to data analysis by telecommunications security company First Orion, more than 44% of mobile phone fraud will occur in 2019, compared to only 3.7% in 2017. FirstOrion calls it the brewing "epidemic" of scam calls, but you can take steps to get vaccinated.
Unsolicited calls from people claiming to work for a government agency, public utility or major tech firm, like Microsoft or Apple. These companies and institutions will rarely call you unless they have first communicated by other means or you have contacted them.
Unsolicited calls from charity fundraisers, especially after disasters.
Calls pitching products or services with terms that sound too good to be true. Common scam offers include free product trials, cash prizes, cheap travel packages, medical devices, preapproved loans, debt reduction, and low-risk, high-return investments.
An automated sales call from a company you have not authorized to contact you. That’s an illegal robocall and almost certainly a scam. (Automated calls are permitted for some informational or non-commercial purposes — for example, from political campaigns or nonprofit groups like AARP.) Do put your phone number on the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry. It won’t stop spam calls, but it will make them easier to spot because most legitimate telemarketers won’t call you if you’re on the registry. Do consider using a call-blocking mobile app or device to screen your calls and weed out spam and scams. You can also ask your phone-service provider if it offers any blocking tools.
Do hang up on illegal robocalls. Do slow down and ask questions of telemarketers. Legitimate businesses and charities will answer questions and give you time to consider a purchase or donation. Scam callers will pressure you to commit right away.
Do independently research travel deals, charities or business and investment opportunities you hear about by phone. Don'ts
Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Don’t return one-ring calls from unknown numbers. These may be scams to get you to call hotlines in African and Caribbean countries that have U.S.-style three-digit area codes, and you could incur hefty connection and per-minute fees.
Don’t follow instructions on a prerecorded message, such as “Press 1” to speak to a live operator (it will probably lead to a phishing expedition) or press any key to get taken off a call list (it will probably lead to more robocalls).
Don’t give personal or financial data, such as your Social Security number or credit card account number, to callers you don’t know. If they say they have the information and just need you to confirm it, that’s a trick.
Don’t pay registration or shipping charges to get a supposed free product or prize. Such fees are ploys to get your payment information. Don’t make payments by gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Fraudsters favor these methods because they are hard to trace.