4 Things To Look For Scammers Don’t Want You To Know
We depend on our phones for almost everything. So what happens when you receive a phone call from an organization you know demanding personal information or payment? Scammers don’t just rely on calls, they use texts too. Some which look legitimate. So how can you tell if it is legitimate or a scam?
The Tell-Tale Signs Of A Scam and Scammer
- 1. Scammers will pretend to be from a known organization. Scammers often pretend to be contacting you on behalf of the government. They might use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Some pretend to be from a business you know, like a utility company, a tech company, or even a charity asking for donations. They use technology to change the phone number that appears on your caller ID. So the name and number you see might not be real.
- 2. Scammers will tell you there’s a prize or a problem. They might say you’re in trouble with the government. Or you owe money. Or someone in your family had an emergency. Or that there’s a virus on your computer. Some scammers say there’s a problem with one of your accounts and that you need to verify some information. Others will lie and say you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes but have to pay a fee to get it.
- 3. Scammers play on your emotions. Scammers want you to act before you have time to think. If you’re on the phone, they might tell you not to hang up so you can’t check out their story. They might threaten to arrest you, sue you, take away your driver’s or business license, or deport you. They might say your computer is about to be corrupted.
- 4. Scammers will instruct you to pay in a particular manner. They often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back. Some will send you a check (that will later turn out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.
What You Can Do to Avoid a Scam
Aside from blocking unwanted calls and text messages, take these steps to avoid being scammed and protect yourself from identity theft or losing money.
- Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect. Legitimate organizations won’t call, email, or text to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers.
- If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy. Or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.
- Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer.
- Know how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or by using a money transfer service. And never deposit a check and send money back to someone.
- Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything else, tell someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor — what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.
Report Scams to the FTC
If you were scammed or think you saw a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
We won’t be giving up our phones any time soon. Scammers will always be there trying to get your information. Knowing what to look for when you suspect a scammer, either from a call or text, will be the best way to protect yourself from becoming a statistic.
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