It seems like everyone has a story about getting scammed these days. Whether it’s a fake IRS call or a “free” https://spymonster.app, scammers are getting increasingly creative in stealing your money.
Imagine: you peacefully answer a call one morning, only to learn an official-looking report from your bank. They’re informing you that there’s been suspicious activity on your account, and they need you to confirm some personal information. Without thinking twice, you comply… and then realize too late that you’ve just given a scammer access to your life savings.
Unfortunately, stories like this are all too common. But the good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from scammers. This blog post will give you three simple rules to protect yourself from scammers and reduce the risk of becoming a victim of phone fraud.
How to Protect Yourself From Scammers
A decade ago, most scams were perpetrated through email or pop-ups on your computer. But today, scammers are increasingly using phone calls and text messages to try to steal your money.
Here are three simple rules you can follow to protect yourself from scammers:
1. Be suspicious of unsolicited calls and texts.
If you didn’t initiate the contact, be suspicious. This is especially true if the caller or texter asks for personal information or money. Legitimate businesses will not cold call or text you out of the blue and ask for sensitive information like your Social Security number, date of birth, or bank account number. If you get an unsolicited call or text that raises red flags, hang up or delete the message without responding.
2. Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.
Scammers often use spoofed numbers to it look like they’re calling from a legitimate company or government agency. If you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer. If you do answer and the caller (or recording) offers a gift if you stay on the line, hang up—these are common scam tactics designed to keep you on the phone, so they can run up your bill or steal your personal information.
3. Don’t respond to texts from unknown numbers.
Like with calls, scammers will often spoof their number when sending texts to trick you into thinking the message is coming from a legitimate source. So if you get a text from an unknown number, don’t respond—even if the message looks harmless. A seemingly innocuous response like “Who is this?” can confirm to the scammer that your number is active, making you a more attractive target for future scams.
Following these three simple rules can help protect yourself from scammers and reduce the risk of becoming a victim of phone fraud. And if you’re ever unsure whether a call or text is legitimate, err on the side of caution and don’t answer or respond—it’s not worth taking the risk.”
The Worst Types of Phone Scams
Besides ground rules to protect yourself in general, it’s also helpful to be aware of the specific types of phone scams that are most common. This way, you can be on the lookout for warning signs and know what to do if you find yourself in a suspicious situation.
Robocalls are automated calls that use pre-recorded messages instead of a live person. They’re the most common phone scam, with millions of robocalls being made daily.
One popular type of robocall scam is known as “phone phishing.” This is where scammers try to trick you into giving them personal information—like your Social Security number or bank account login credentials—by masquerading as a legitimate organization. They might say they’re calling from your bank or the IRS and that there’s an issue with your account. Or they might claim to be from a government agency like the Census Bureau and say you need to verify some information.
#2: Impersonation Scams
Impersonation scams are another common type of phone scam. With this type of scam, the caller pretends to be someone else to try to steal your money or personal information. They might pretend to be a representative from a government agency or a well-known company and say that you owe them money. Or they might claim to be from a charity and ask for donations.
Scammers will often use high-pressure tactics to get you to pay up immediately. They might threaten to arrest you or sue you if you don’t comply. Or they might say that there’s an emergency and you must send money immediately.
#3: Fake Sweepstakes and Lotteries
Another common type of phone scam is the fake sweepstakes or lottery. In this scam, the caller tells you you’ve won a prize or a jackpot. But to collect your winnings, you need to pay taxes or fees first. The caller might say that you can pay with a credit card, wire transfer, or even cryptocurrency.
Of course, there’s no prize, and the caller is just trying to steal your money. Or they might try to get your personal information like your Social Security number or bank account number. They could use this information to commit identity theft.
To protect yourself from scammers, don’t give out your personal information to someone you don’t know. Be suspicious of anyone who calls you out of the blue and tells you that you’ve won a prize. And never pay taxes or fees to collect a prize. Contact your local law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission if you’ve been scammed.
Phone scams are becoming increasingly common as scammers find new ways to steal people’s money. But by being aware of these scams and knowing how to protect yourself, you can avoid becoming a victim. Pay attention to the warning signs and hang up if you suspect you’re being scammed. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.