Spam phone calls and emails are on the rise in the United States. Last year alone, scam calls cost Americans over $19 billion, and this figure has been increasing year after year.
Scammers keep finding new and inventive ways to trick people out of their money or convince them to share their personal data. And it can be challenging to identify scammers, especially now that they use more sophisticated tactics.
In this post, we will explore some common scams and how to identify scammers. This will help protect you and your family from any unpleasant financial losses.
HOW DO SCAMMERS OPERATE?
Our connected world gives scammers a multitude of options to work their schemes. They may use phone calls, text messages, or emails to grab our attention and get our details.
Typically, scammers play a numbers game and call hundreds and thousands of people until they reach the right person. Their professional and friendly phone manner can quickly persuade someone to hand over financial or personal details. And we all know what happens next.
The best defense is knowing how to identify scammers. If you know what to look for, you know what to avoid.
According to the federal government, there are many common scams that consumers need to be aware of, including:
- Telephone Scams
- Banking Scams
- COVID-19 Scams
- Lottery and Sweepstake Scams
- Charity Scams
- Investment Scams
- Pyramid Schemes
And these are just the more popular ones!
Other scams that have been recently reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) include social security scams, unemployment benefits scams, and gift scams.
HOW TO IDENTIFY SCAMMERS
While they can sometimes be challenging to spot, there are a few things that can help you identify scammers. Here are four warning signs that you may be dealing with a scammer.
SCAMMERS USE DETAILS OF REAL ORGANIZATIONS
Scammers usually pretend to be contacting you from a bank, charity, government agency, or utility company. They will even use technology that changes the caller ID to make it look more official.
There are a few things to look out for here.
Caller IDs starting with 473 have been associated with numerous scam calls. Also, if the area code is a real American one, but the next three numbers start with “0” or “1,” then use caution as it is probably not a legitimate company.
If you notice a delay between picking up the phone and someone responding, then this is a sign that the caller used an automatic dialer. In this case, hang up immediately.
One final thing to note is that financial institutions advise their clients never to give their card passwords or security details over the phone. So, if someone starts asking you for these details, you are probably talking with a scammer.
SCAMMERS TRY TO SHOCK YOU INTO ACTION
According to the FTC, scammers usually trick consumers into believing they have won a prize or that they are in some trouble. For example, a scammer might call you to say you owe money to the IRS or someone you know is in hospital and has insufficient insurance. You might even get a call from a company saying there is a problem with an account.
They will usually ask you to confirm some details to get the prize or solve the problem. Financial institutions and utility providers will never ask for personal security details. If this happens, hang up and contact the supposed company or provider directly.
SCAMMERS PUT ON THE PRESSURE
Many scammers are successful because they shock you into taking action and put you under pressure if you refuse to follow their requests. Some scammers will threaten to sue you, repossess your car or home, or arrest you.
They might take a serious tone or get angry with you. If you feel uncomfortable, then hang up.
SCAMMERS ARE SPECIFIC
As mentioned above, scammers will pressure you into action and get you to act quickly. Many will say that you need to pay today to avoid the threat. And they will ask you to pay using a specific channel such as a money transfer company.
A government agency or financial institution will never ask you to do that, so ignore these requests if you are asked.
HOW TO AVOID BEING SCAMMED
There are several things that you can do to protect yourself against scams.
NEVER GIVE PERSONAL DETAILS OVER THE PHONE
It cannot be overstated: legitimate organizations will never ask for details over the phone or by email. If someone asks you for your social security number, account number, or credit card number, hang up. Don’t click any links either. Contact the company directly via their website or phone.
KNOW YOUR COMPANIES
If you receive a call from a company you don’t use saying there is a problem with the account, hang up immediately. The same is true if you receive an email from an unfamiliar company asking you to confirm details of a transaction or deal with a problem on an account. Don’t click any links. Mark as spam and delete.
HANG UP IF YOU ARE FEELING PRESSURED
Legitimate companies will never put you under pressure to pay or act, so if you are on a call where you feel pressured, then hang up.
HOW TO IDENTIFY SCAMMERS: OTHER HELP AND RESOURCES
At GHS FCU, the security of our clients’ money and personal data is of paramount importance to us. To learn more about how to protect your account and personal information, click the link below.