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Latest US Holiday Phone Scam News You Need to Hear About

Holidays are awfully close, and the phone scammers are upping their game. With most of the purchasing done online, it comes as no surprise that the amount and types of scams are about to increases.

2020 has already been challenging with a lot of CDC and IRS scams being deployed due to the pandemic. But now, more than ever we need to stay alert and protect ourselves and our loved ones from the potential loss of money or personal data.

We have been following the news carefully and here are some of the phone scams you simply need to watch out for.

The warning

Here are some FBI recommended steps to avoid holiday scams in general, but they apply perfectly to phone scams as well –

  • Before shopping online, secure all financial accounts with strong passwords or passphrases. Additionally, the FBI recommends using different passwords for each financial account.
  • Check bank and credit card statements routinely, including after making online purchases and in the weeks following the holiday season.
  • Never give personal information— such as your date of birth, Social Security number, or billing addresses— to anyone you do not know.
  • Be wary of promotions and giveaways that request your personal information.
  • Prior to donating to any charity, verify that they have a valid Taxpayer Identification number by visiting their website or calling the charity directly.

What we will add here is very simple, when you get any of the above propositions over the phone. So someone asking about your personal information or credit card number, wanting you to give to a charity you are not familiar with, and so on. When that happens, first take a breath, then hang up the phone. Use a trusted reverse phone lookup search and check out the phone number that had called you. You will immediately see whether it is the real thing or a scam. If, by chance, it isn’t a scam you will be calling them back within minutes.

The scams you should pay attention to

 If you get a sudden phone call from Apple or Amazon about your user account, it is probably a scam.

As PC Mag reports – “Federal Trade Commission, fraudsters have been using both brands to try and trick people into handing over their personal information, including their credit card numbers. On Thursday, the agency published a blog post documenting how robocalls pretending to be either Apple or Amazon have been preying on unsuspecting consumers. “

“In one version of the scam, you get a call and a recorded message that says it’s Amazon,” the FTC said. “The message says there’s something wrong with your account. It could be a suspicious purchase, a lost package, or an order they can’t fulfill.”

In these cases, it is best to hang up immediately. And contact Amazon or Apple directly to see whether there is, indeed, a problem with your account.

Next on our list is

Social Security phone scam returns in time for the holidays, Ho, Ho, Ho

Kirk Larson, a public affairs specialist with the Social Security Administration Seattle region had the following to sayabout this specific type of scam that is currently circling in the US – “The uptick in fraudulent robocalls not so much attributed to the holidays, but to the fact that many people are home during the pandemic. And he says the calls are not targeted. “They (the scammers) cast a pretty broad net,” he said. “They’ll make 200 calls and maybe one person will bite.” Like the SSA agent in Juneau in the original story below, Larson has also received robocalls at his work number at the SSA office in Portland, Oregon. He says the SSA Office of the Inspector General has a large online library of articles for consumers about how to steer clear of attempted fraud — especially fraud related to the pandemic.”

According to the government - If you receive a call like this, hang up. If you receive a voicemail, email, or text like this, do not respond. If there is a problem with your Social Security number or record, Social Security will mail you a letter. If you need to submit payments to Social Security, the agency will send a letter with instructions and payment options.

This is much like the ever-present IRS scam. Government agencies will not contact you via phone or ask for information via phone. You will get a letter with the appropriate official heading in the mail and then you can respond adequately.

No signs of slowing down

Did you know that spam calls grew 18% this year despite the global pandemic, a firm, best known for its caller ID app, estimated that an average American received 28.4 spam calls a month this year, up from 18.2 last year? As a result, and with 49.9 spam calls per user a month, up from an already alarming 45.6 figure last year, Brazil remained the worst impacted nation by spam calls, the firm said in its yearly report on the subject.

But there is more, in addition to bringing annoyance, these calls are also being used to scam people out of money. As many as 56 million Americans reported having lost money to phone scams this year, and an estimated $19.7 billion was lost to such calls, according to an earlier Truecaller report.

Scary isn’t it, and it should keep you very much alert about everything that is happening. We tend to get lost in the beauty of the holidays and the sudden fear we feel once informed that something might be wrong with our account or data paralyzes us. That is why it is important not to react immediately, but rather take a step back, breathe, hang up, use a reverse phone lookup to check the situation, and finally respond accordingly. Calling someone back is easy, retracing your steps and hoping that you won’t get scammed out of a lot of money because you reacted too quickly is far more difficult.

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