During the pandemic, there has been a rise by scammers to con people out of money. Unfortunately, our country is experiencing a worldwide pandemic which is making more and more people desperate to make ends meet. Some are struggling due to unemployment and limited income while others are looking for ways to take advantage of the elderly and ill informed, so listen up and beware.
10 common phone scams currently making the rounds.
Threatening calls from the IRS: Federal agents impersonators sound official and may even provide a badge number. Most will threaten that if immediate payment isn't made, they will file lawsuits against you or may say the police are on the way to make an arrest. Please know the IRS will not call you by phone or ask for payment in the form of gift cards. he IRS almost always makes its first contact via the mail, and it will never demand payment over the phone.
Technical support calls: the caller typically says they are from a well-known company like Microsoft or Apple and have detected an error on a person's computer. They will then talk the victim through a series of steps to "fix" the problem. In reality, a person is unwittingly downloading software that will hijack their system or give the caller remote access. Scammers use it to gather sensitive data or install ransomware, which requires a payment to unlock a computer's files.
Fake charity appeals: Charity scams are common after a natural disaster or other tragedy. The caller count on the goodwill of people who want to help. They prey on the elderly and ill informed. Please avoid giving money to a criminal, don't make any donations to unsolicited callers.. Do your research.
Lottery scams: If you get a call saying you have been randomly selected to win a foreign lottery, don't believe it. These calls are fake, and the tipoff is that the caller will say you need to pay taxes or other government fees in order to collect the winnings. You should never pay for something, you've won.
Family members in peril: If you get a call that is supposedly a family member in a crisis, hang up and call that person's number directly. If you are unable to reach them, call another friend or family member who may be able to validate their whereabouts. Try the courthouse or police department if a person is allegedly in legal trouble. Most importantly, impress upon senior family members that they should be skeptical of unusual calls from family members asking for money.
Website password requests: Scammers may be after access to your online accounts. They call under a number of pretenses, such as providing technical support or to follow up on suspected fraud, and then ask for your password to verify your identity. Please know you should never be asked to disclose a website password over the phone, (ref: https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/family-finance/articles/most-common-phone-scams)
The “Can you hear me now?” scheme attempts to record your voice over the phone. (When you pick up the phone, you’ll hear someone ask, “Can you hear me now?”.) The scammer then records and uses your “yes” response to sign you up for a product or service, and demand payment. If you refuse to pay, the criminals may threaten you with legal action, citing your “yes” as proof.
To protect yourself, the Better Business Bureau offers five helpful tips:
1. Just hang up
If you answer the phone to hear “Can you hear me now?” or another question eliciting a “yes” response, just hang up the phone. Don’t give the scammers any chance to record your voice.
2. Avoid giving out personal info
Unless you initiated the call or have already verified the phone number, never volunteer any personal information.
4. Beware of any requests from an unknown number In an attempt to find out if yours is an active phone number, the scammers may place a preliminary call. They can ask you a seemingly innocent question such as, “Do you want to be added to the Do Not Call registry?” Again, just hang up. Don’t press any buttons.