How to Recognize Scammers When They Call

Phone scammers are always looking for new ways to trick you into giving them your money or personal information. They prey upon the trust of the people to get what they’re after. But just as there are many types of phone scams, there are many new and innovative methods to deal with these nuisances. We’ll look at some of the most common phone scams and some steps you can take to avoid them.

What Are Some Different Types of Phone Scams?

If you look for the telltale signs of phone scammers, you can start to recognize some patterns that will help you determine whether a call you’re receiving is legitimate or not.

How to Recognize Scammers When They Call

1.     Automated Calls

Anytime you receive a robocall, or there’s clicking on the line and a pause after you say hello, you can be almost positive it’s someone looking for your information. Even if it’s not a scam, it could still be a giant waste of your time. Scammers will use computers to automatically dial random numbers, looking for someone who picks up and answers. If you do, they know they’ve found a real person and can sell your number to another scammer or telemarketer, resulting in an increase in the number of scam calls you receive.

Often, scammers use threats or fear tactics to get you to part with your money. They’ll impersonate the police or other government officials and inform you that you or a loved one have a warrant out for their arrest. They want you to send them money to avoid arrest or any further legal entanglements. Beware of scammers urging you to hurry. They don’t want you to take the time to think things through. They’re counting on your fear of avoiding trouble blinding you to their scheme.

3.     Calls From Large Corporations

It is unlikely you would receive an actual call from a huge company like Amazon or Apple, telling you your account has been hacked. Any communication with them would probably start on your end, so if you didn’t report a problem, an unsolicited call from a large company is a scam. They’ll ask you for your account number, credit card number or even for access to your computer to clear up an issue. Be wary and guard your information closely.

4.     Things That Sound Too Good to be True

Any call congratulating you on being randomly selected for a prize or some special benefit probably has an ulterior motive connected with it. Scammers will ask for your personal information in the guise of verifying your identity so they can award you a prize or discount on products or services. Sorry for the disappointment, but you are probably not a big winner.

What Are Some Steps to Take to Avoid Scammers?

First, don’t answer calls from telephone numbers you don’t recognize. This is the simplest and easiest way to deter scammers. But beware, they often have ways of masking their incoming call number to make it look local to your area. It may look familiar to you, but check closely and if it isn’t a number you know, don’t pick up.

Put your phone number on the Do Not Call Registry. It’s a free government service designed to thwart telemarketers. You will still receive political calls and calls from charities because they’re not recognized as telemarketers by the government, but it will cover scammers who are trying to reach you illegally.

Download and use a service like the Burner app. Burner creates up to three disposable phone numbers for you so you can protect your privacy. The Burner numbers connect to your phone, but the callers will never know what your real phone number is. You can change Burner numbers at any time, so if a scammer has somehow reached you, they will be cut off when you change it. The Burner service also provides call blocking, so a number that is already recognized to be a scam will be stopped before it even gets to you. 

Don’t make things easier for scammers. Never give out your private information and hang up as soon as you recognize a call is a scam. Interacting with someone who is looking to take advantage of you just gives them more opportunities to do so. If you are still unsure if a call is legitimate or not, don’t rush to comply with their requests. Ask for more time or information. If they’re a legal company or service, they should be happy to accommodate you.

Scammers can be annoying and even dangerous, but by practicing a little caution, they can be avoided. New technology and apps like Burner can do this work for you as well. Guarding your privacy and personal information is more important than ever, so it’s vital you stay aware and protect yourself.