Phone scams have been prominent for as long as I can remember, but probably even before that. Alexander Graham Bell has been gone a century, so I don’t even know how long. Nonetheless, phone fraud is a major issue today. I think I get, on average, at least one scam call a day on my cell phone.
Financial services are fifth on the list of the most spoofed industries. Many people globally have lost their hard-earned money to scam calls. Many have heard the commercials warning of elder abuse. The assumption is that a lack of technological savvy makes you more susceptible to fraud. However, recent surveys have debunked this myth. A recent survey done by First Orion showed that respondents ages 18-34 made up 62% of people that have lost money to scams by cell phone. Whereas people ages 55 and older only made up 45% of the survey respondents.
So friends, how can we protect ourselves from falling victim to these scams?
“Little Lies” – Fleetwood Mac
First rule of thumb: be skeptical. Technology being what technology is makes it super easy for scammers to fake a caller ID. While you may think that your insurance agency is calling you, it actually is a scammer trying to trick you. This tactic of faking a caller ID is called spoofing, which allows the scammers to impersonate real life numbers and names. Scammers use the same area code that you have because you are more likely to answer calls that look familiar.
Here is an example of what I have done: I answered a call that had the same area code as I did, and the caller said they were from a travel agency. Right off the bat I knew it was a scam…why would a travel agency be calling me? My dad was standing right next to me, so I let him have some fun. This particular “travel agency” was offering me a job (that I didn’t apply for or even knew existed) to go on cruises and review them. Without a second thought my dad said “Sorry, I don’t know how to swim.” Boom, call ended. He caught them off guard and they hung up. Bottom line: be skeptical. If you don’t know the name that pops up, or the number, don’t answer. If it is important, they will leave a voicemail. However, be wary of those as well!
“Thank U, Next” – Ariana Grande
As previously stated, scammers are spoofing, which makes it a tad bit more difficult to determine whether you have a legitimate phone call or if it is a robocall. If you answer the phone and it turns out it’s not your doctor’s office, the best thing to do is to hang up.
Some of these robocalls will try and coerce you into saying certain words so they can use them against you. Most recently, there have been scams via AI technology, which means they can replicate your voice and use it against you. So, the best possible thing you can do once you realize it is a scam is to hang up. Again, if you decide to let the phone roll to voicemail, that’s okay too. If it is important, they will try and call again or leave a message.
“Keep Your Hands to Yourself” – The Georgia Satellites
As usual, DO NOT give out your personal information. The main goal scammers have is to get your information and use it for malicious purposes. If you answered the phone and they start by asking your name, don’t tell them. If they ask you to verify your home address, where you work, credit card number, or any other personal information… DO NOT TELL THEM. Instead, hang up. However small the information may seem, it could be used to harm you.
“School’s Out” – Alice Cooper
One of the best ways to stay on your toes in the scamming world is to know what scams are going around. The more you know, the better you will be able to protect yourself. You can get the latest tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), your bank’s newsletter, or your banker. Knowing as much as you can about the latest scams will help you protect yourself and your personal information.
“Hello It’s Me” – Todd Rundgren
Another way to protect yourself is to register yourself on the Do Not Call Registry. By doing so, you SHOULDN’T be called by any telemarketers, and it’s free. Your mobile provider may also have scam monitoring options – in some cases they may also be free. Do some research and take action in order to protect yourself even more!
“Long Arm of the Law” – Kenny Rodgers
In this instance, a snitch will not get a stitch, they will get a gold star. If you receive a scam call, report it! You can report scams to your local law enforcement, your bank, or to the FTC. Reporting will only help protect others from sleazy criminals.
Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you from here on out!