Lately, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of scams and spam calls coming to my phone and wanted to share some information with you all.There are many scams out there, many of which take place over the phone. The calls are designed to scare you or trick you into thinking you’ve been hacked, a payment was missed, or someone made a purchase on one of your accounts.Here are a few examples of these calls:
- Amazon/Apple Scam – You get a call from someone claiming to represent Amazon or Apple, and the recording asks you to press one to speak to a representative. If you do so, the person on the phone then asks you to share your credit card information, passwords, or other personal information they can use against you.
- Car Warranty Scam – This is a better-known scam. Almost everyone has dealt with these phone calls. If you answer, you hear a recording stating that someone is trying to reach you regarding your car’s warranty. The representative you would speak to would then ask your personal information and banking information under the guise of selling you an extended warranty for your car.
- IRS Scam – Many have heard of this scam, and still many fall for it. A recording tells you that the IRS has issued a warrant for your arrest because you owe back taxes. It’s important to note, the IRS does not call, they send letters. The IRS will not ask you to send gift cards as payment either.
- Microsoft Scam – A representative calls you regarding a problem you have with your computer, unsolicited. They then ask to be able to remotely access your computer. This is nothing but an attempt to get into your computer to get personal information like bank accounts, passwords, and financial info. Sometimes they will ask for payments for the repairs to appear more legitimate.
- Facebook Giveaways – I cannot tell you how many times I have posted comments over and over on these scams because hundreds and thousands of people are falling victim to this publicly. Walmart, Kroger, Meijer, Aldi, and other stores do not just start Facebook giveaways where they send you free groceries for a year. Other companies are not offering free cars, rent, and large sums of cash if you share their page. These pages are often created within days and are another way scammers are trying to get your personal information.
Although there are many more scams and spam callers out there, these are just a few of the more common ones going around.
How can you tell it’s a scam? Here are some of the common warning signs:
- They call you, but need you to verify your identity with your entire SSN, address, DOB, credit card number, etc. If a credit card company is calling you, they already have the necessary information in front of them. At most, a legitimate call may ask for the last 4 digits of your social or an answer to a security question that you set up.
- A Facebook giveaway account will only be days old or only has a few posts. Legitimate businesses like to post to keep their customers engaged. If a big business like Aldi has a Facebook page that is 3 days old and is promising free groceries, it’s guaranteed to be a scam.
- A friend of yours on Facebook suddenly has a new page and is messaging you that they are out of town and stranded. All typical methods of communication are not available to them and the only solution is to electronically transfer money or a gift card to them. Absolutely never do this. How would your friend have access to Facebook but not their phone?
- They ask for a gift card as payment. With exception to store gift cards, legitimate businesses are not going to ask you to drive to a store to pick up a gift card to pay them when you could use a legitimate means of transfer. They do this to avoid getting the money returned to you once you realize it’s a scam.
- You are not allowed to tell anyone about the deal/contest/purchase. This is to avoid you telling someone who will tell you it’s a scam. If you tell a bank teller, cashier, or friend about the interaction, someone might tell you it’s a scam and ruin the con.
So what can you do in order to avoid falling victim to one of these scams? Here are a few tips to keep in mind on the phone and over the internet:
- If you get a call from a recording, hang up. Do not press any buttons and do not wait on the line to speak to someone. If they call on your cell phone, block the call after you hang up.
- Do not share personal information with unsolicited calls. If someone calls you out of the blue, do not share information. If possible, it’s best to not answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number. Many calls are placed on autodial to see if the phone number is active before someone calls back with a scam attempt.
- Avoid buying things through Facebook/Instagram ads. A common tactic used for these types is to say the company is going out of business and they are having a liquidation sale.
- Any time you are unsure of a situation, err on the side of caution and end the interaction with the caller/online representative. To follow up, you can call the company back on a legitimate line and ask them about the situation.
- Do not click on links from people you don’t know. Do not click on links from accounts you think may be hacked. If a friend you don’t normally interact with on Facebook suddenly sends you a link with a line like “Is this you?”, it’s a tactic to get you to click on a dirty link that may install malware on your phone or computer.
- Avoid sharing spam posts on Facebook. If the post asks you to share to show love, uses bait lines like “I bet I couldn’t get any likes on this”, or anything that looks like an old-fashioned chain letter – it’s a scam to get you to share to your page. It’s a great way for scammers to see who is vulnerable to scams online.
- Password games on Facebook – Have you seen the cute little games that ask you to decide your elf name, Harry Potter name, Island Goddess name? These are designed to elicit some of the more common passwords and security questions from you. Most of the keys to finding your special new name entail your middle name, your parents name, dog’s name, street where you were born, year of birth, etc. Many of us are guilty of using these key words as passwords or answers to security questions for online banking and credit card accounts.
If you know any friends or relatives who may not be tech savvy, take time to educate them on these calls as you hear about them. Often the most vulnerable people to the phone scams are the people who spend very little time online.
If there is anything we missed, let us know!