How To Watch Out For Phone Scams And Robocalls

Posted: Jun 27 2019, 9:20am CDT | by , in Technology News


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How to Watch Out for Phone Scams and Robocalls
Image: CNN

They're getting worse, and they're getting smarter. Here's how to protect yourself from a scam.

Unsolicited phone calls from scammers are not only annoying, they're also malicious. With the variety and volume of phone scams impacting our daily lives and steadily adapting to shifting trends in the Information Age, maintaining an awareness of how to deal with them has become critical for our continued protection of sensitive data. Remaining informed of best practices and common scams increases our aptitude for dealing with them in a manner that safeguards us from being victimized.

As long as avenues exist for them to contact us, scammers will continue to find creative ways to persuade people to give up valuable information.

Best Practices When Dealing With Phone Scams and Robocalls

One of the best tips to keep in mind to safeguard you from potential scammers is don't pay for anything you didn't initiate over the phone. Protect your funds and sensitive data by keeping a tight hold on it, only disclosing high-risk information when you are the one taking action.

Likewise, don't engage in conversation with scammers over the phone. Since some scams use voice-recording software, the more you talk, the more likely it is that you'll say something they could twist to claim you agreed to certain terms or transactions.

Beyond that, don't blindly trust what you're told. While it's good to give people the benefit of the doubt and see the good in others, anyone who gives consideration to pitches they hear over the phone or indiscriminately believes the validity of what they're told becomes an easy target for scammers trying to take advantage of them.

Common Phone Scams and Robocalls to Look Out For

Phone scams are prevalent, often preying on people's propensity to react out of fear or generosity. While the Federal Trade Commission provides a thorough listing of recent scams to alert people to contemporary schemes they should be wary of, here are some of the more frequent scams you should look out for:

1. "Can you hear me" scams

If someone on an unsolicited call from an unknown number asks whether or not you can hear them, they may be looking for you to answer "yes" so they can record your affirmative answer and claim you agreed to authorize unwanted charges. The caller may pretend to be an organization the victim is familiar with, making them more comfortable and trusting. Even if it looks as though the call could be from someone you know, try rephrasing your response to be safe or hang up the phone.

2. Charity scams

Often employed by scammers in the aftermath of a natural disaster or tragedy, charity scams attempt to take advantage of your desire to help others. If you want to give money to a particular cause, do your own research and select charitable organizations you'd like to contribute to. Don't make any sort of donation to an unsolicited caller.

3. Family members in peril scams

As horrifying as these phones calls can be, it's vital that you remain calm and collected. The scammer's intention is to disorient you and prod you to make an emotional and senseless choice. Often targeting elderly citizens who may not be able to hear the scammer's voice well enough to differentiate between them and the imitated family member, these scams prey on fears and should not be trusted without first calling the family member in question.

4. Award scams

Whenever someone tells you that you won a lottery you never played, a red flag should be thrown. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. These scams typically attempt to get you to pay taxes on your winnings, but if you never received any money, you shouldn't have to worry about paying taxes yet. If you do decide to play lottery games, be sure to protect yourself while playing. Avoid posting a picture of a winning ticket on social media before you've redeemed it and never give your ticket to someone without knowing its worth.

5. IRS scams

Particularly common around tax season, IRS phone scams involve federal agent impersonators threatening legal action if payment isn't immediately sent. The phone call alone should throw up a red flag, since the IRS will only get in touch with you through the mail on official letterhead. Even if the callers reference the amount you paid in taxes last year, you shouldn't trust them with important information. To verify whether or not you're in good standing with the IRS, hang up the phone and call a number you can verify online as accurate.

6. Technical support scams

In this scam, the caller claims to be from a notable tech company like Apple or Microsoft, reporting that they have detected an issue on your computer. The reality is that no one from larger tech companies is watching your computer to see if there's a virus, so you shouldn't believe their claim. If you do, the scammer will attempt to gain remote access to your computer in an effort to obtain sensitive data and install ransomware.

How Can We Fight Against Phone Scams and Robocalls

Inundated with unsolicited calls from unknown numbers on our phones, we are not only inconvenienced but also endangered. Undermining our faith in the security of our phones, the accepted standard is to ignore calls from numbers we don't know — but that shouldn't have to be the norm.

Comprehensive legislation on the issue of robocalls has already been introduced to the U.S. government in an effort to prevent consumers from being forced to pay for unwanted calls. But additional measures need to be taken to protect people from these threats. Relief may come through the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, which would require phone carriers to provide customers with free screening technology to identify and block spam calls. However, scammers will likely adapt and find new ways to con people.

With a better understanding of the strategies behind phone scams and robocalls, we can equip ourselves to combat fraudulent schemes and keep sensitive information away from untrustworthy hands.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/56" rel="author">Scott Huntington</a>
Scott Huntington is a writer and journalist from Harrisburg PA who covered movies, tech, cars, and more. Check out his blog Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.




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