Phone scams are big news lately. In fact, it seems that scams are everywhere from snail mail, emails, and phone calls that we receive. It is important to understand these risks and avoid becoming a victim. Here are a few tips on how to avoid phone scams.

Common Types of Phone Scams

There are many different types of phone scams floating around these days. Here are just a few:

  • You’ve won a prize. Of course, it’s for a contest that you don’t even remember entering.
  • You owe money to the IRS. They claim that you must submit payment now or they’ll issue a warrant for your arrest.
  • Your credit card has been hacked.
  • A local charity is raising money.

Signs of a Scam

There are some immediate red flags that a phone call you receive is a scam.

  • They ask for your personal information (date of birth, social security number, etc.).
  • They ask for immediate payment over the phone.
  • They ask for unusual payment types (i.e. gift cards, Western Union money transfers, and other means that are difficult to track).
  • They threaten to have you arrested if you don’t immediately pay.
  • They speak with a foreign accent (many scam call centers are run out of India).
  • They are unwilling to provide you with their company name, call back number, etc.

Normally, these callers try to get you to act quickly before you’ve had time to really think about what’s going on. They use elaborate prize offers or scare tactics. These types of approaches and behaviours should always be a ref flag that something’s not quite right.

How to Avoid Phone Scams

As a general rule, never give your personal information or any type of payment to someone who calls you, period. This is the safest approach. If you do believe it’s a legitimate call, verify the information first. Ask for their phone number so you can call back later. If it’s a known business, such as one of your credit card companies, visit their website or check your latest statement for the correct phone number. Call them back at the verified number to ensure that you are indeed speaking with that company and not someone pretending to be from that company. Here are a few additional tidbits of information to help you avoid phone scams:

  • The IRS will never call you to collect money. They always communicate via US mail.
  • There are no situations where you must make payment or get immediately arrested. Creditors must file lawsuits to pursue payment, so you would’ve heard about the case prior to receiving a random call.
  • Legitimate charitable organizations would gladly provide you with information and a way for you to make a direct donation.

We hope that this information helps you avoid potential phone scams and to protect your finances and identity!