5 Malicious Phone Scams to Watch Out For

5 Malicious Phone Scams to Watch Out For

If you have a cell phone, you probably get multiple calls a week from numbers that you don’t recognize. They have area codes from all over the country and leave you wondering why someone from Ohio is attempting to call you.

A lot of times you may simply ignore the calls. But every so often, you’re expecting a call from your doctor’s office or the auto repair shop, and you end up taking a call from someone who claims that you need to pay $500 right now or else you’re going to be arrested for tax fraud.

Many times, these scams are obvious, but the scammers have been getting more and more creative, leading to convincing phone calls that end in stolen money and identities.

To help combat identity and financial theft from these phone scams, we have compiled a list of five common phone scams so that you can better protect yourself:

1. The debt collector scam

This is one of the most common phone scams going around these days. People will call claiming to be a debt collector and demand that you pay over the phone or through a wire transfer. They will use guilt or scare tactics to convince you to pay. A lot of times it will be easy to spot this as fake as they will accept payments in iTunes gift cards.

Other times it is not so obvious. These “collectors” will use something known as phantom debt where they use debts that you previously had but paid off to make the scam seem more legitimate.

Remember that it is within your rights to request proof of the debt before you submit a payment. If you suspect that this call is a scam, request proof of the debt – if they refuse to give it to you or hang up, then you know for sure that it is a scam.

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2. The IRS scam

Similar to the debt collector scam, someone will call you claiming to be from the IRS (even using the IRS official hotline as their phone number) and tell you that you still owe money from your taxes and you will be arrested for tax fraud if you do not pay immediately.

The IRS does not use their main hotline to make outgoing calls and they will never request immediate payment over the phone.

Read this official release from the IRS to learn more about this particular scam (as it is one of the most popular ones) and how you can spot it: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/phone-scams-continue-to-be-a-serious-threat-remain-on-irs-dirty-dozen-list-of-tax-scams-for-the-2016-filing-season

3. The one ring scam

If you ever get a call that rings once and hangs up, do not call back. The people who run this scam use an app that makes their phone number look like a domestic United States number, when it is actually an international call.

They will call you and ring once before hanging up, hoping to get you to call back. Once you do, you will be charged for an international call.

4. Medicare and Medicaid scams

You can spot this easily if someone calls you claiming to be your insurance company and asks for you to update or confirm your information, such as your social security and address. Your insurance company will already have the necessary information about you, and will not be calling you to confirm anything. If you get this call, hang up at once.

5. The tech support scam

This scam is one of the more malicious ones as the person calling is attempting to get access to your personal computer. Someone will call claiming to be from Microsoft or Apple and say that you have a virus on your computer and they need to help you get it off. Some will ask you to pay them before they perform their service and disconnect the call once you pay.

Others will try and get you to install a piece of software to your computer that will allow them to access it remotely. If you do this, they will have complete access to your computer and passwords, allowing them to get into your bank account and other important accounts.

Tech support is never going to call to tell you that there is a problem with your computer. They won’t even know if there is a problem unless you call them asking for help. If someone calls claiming there is a problem with your computer, hang up immediately as they are likely looking to gain access to your computer.

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Takeaway

Although the FTC is taking steps to eliminate these scams, they are unfortunately not going away any time soon.

In order to help protect yourself, you need to know how to spot them. These five common scams are a good place to begin, but it does not include everything you need to know.

In order to prevent this blog post from become exorbitantly long, we have decided to break it up into two posts. Since there is no way we can compile a list of every phone scam out there, we will be posting another blog next week with tips on how to spot a scam, no matter what they try to pitch. We will also be writing about what to do to lessen these calls, and how you can help put an end to them.

Rachel Morris