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How to Identify and Avoid Common Phone Scams - 3 Tips

We all get them most more often than we would like. Phone scams seem to increase yearly in both type and number, and even with the efforts that both the government and phone service providers are putting in, it still seems like the numbers are not decreasing.

So the first thing is to identify the major ones, and once you know what you are dealing with, there are some preventive measures that we can take that will reduce and hopefully bring to a halt all the unwanted phone calls. Are you ready? Here’s what you need to know about common phone scams and how to stop them.

Make sure you keep up with the latest trends

Yes, we know that this is not the best news to read weekly. However, possessing this knowledge can protect you and your loved ones from ever getting scammed. You can use different options in this case - FFc shares the latest frauds, scams, and alerts. By checking it out from time to time, you can get most of the information you need.

We have decided to provide you with some of the most common ones currently trending - 

Fake IRS Calls - the sooner you find out, the better

You still have time to get ready for what is coming as soon as the tax season start. The phone scammers seem to really know our biggest fears, and the IRS is definitely one of them. Luckily there are easy ways of identifying them and protecting yourself and your loved ones.

First of all, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen made the following announcement:

“If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you don't pay immediately, it's a scam artist calling. The first IRS contact with taxpayers is usually through the mail. Taxpayers have rights, and this is not how we do business.”

In addition, you need to remember that the IRS will not use email, text messages, or any social media to get in touch with you, either. There are official channels that this institution uses and has sued for decades, and those are the ones you can trust. Do not let scammers intimidate you into giving them the data they seek. Finally, if you want to confirm that you don't owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. Their workers can help you with a payment issue.

An unknown number that seems familiar but rings only once

These count on you calling back, and very often, robocalls spoof local area codes and numbers so that you might think it’s someone you know calling you and return the call immediately. Calling back verifies your number belongs to a real person, plus shows you’re the type of person who will return a call from an unknown number. This is information that the scammers can exploit. It is known as - reversed the trust principle – when someone calls you, you are more skeptical about them than when you call someone, even if it is an unknown number. It is as simple as that.

Now, you might be wondering how they can get money if you don’t provide them with the information; well, you might be calling a 900 number—often a sex line—that could charge you $17 for the first minute and $9 more per minute after that. And you wouldn’t be the wiser until that bill comes at the end of the month.

Now that you know - start protecting yourself 

The best and safest way is - do not answer. Hang up and use white pages to check who is behind the number. Even if you have relatives in, say, Florida, before answering, consult the Florida white pages search to ensure that it is them calling and not a scammer trying to trick you. 

Don’t worry you are not alone, the state is working on helping you stay protected - So, if you look at the law, ah yes, the law - the TCPA has prohibited most robocalls for decades. You might not know that you, like most of us, have been on the receiving end for so many of them. Sadly they keep finding loopholes and wiggling their way around the law. However, now the phone providers are also joining the good fight, and we are seeing a drop. Most large phone service providers are doing their part to keep their customers safe. They are developing different tools to battle the robocalls. These are based on call-verification technology, but sadly, the process is not as fast as we would like it to be. So yes, the first thing we listed is still the best. Just don’t answer and check who is calling you before calling back.

Some safety techniques to consider

Suppose you get scared by the caller ID and decide to answer. Here are some ways to protect yourself. 

  • Do not answer any questions
  • Do not provide personal information of any kind
  • Just inform them that you will send it by mail
  • Make sure you don’t share any passwords 
  • Do not donate any money

It is as simple as that. You can always contact the CDC or IRS and check whether the people calling you were really who they said. The chances are they are not. Most government agencies tend to reach out via mail on official papers with letterheads. And there have been no cases of them asking for money or any type of payment via phone. Even if you see CDC on your caller ID, the chances are that their number has been spoofed.

So, there you have it, you are up to date on the lasts phone scams going around. We have also provided you with tools to properly protect yourself and your loved ones in case you receive them. The phone scammers are getting better and better at playing with our emotions and our biggest fears, and it is essential that we stay very much in control and don’t let our basic emotions drive us to make the wrong decisions. 

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