Phone scams are a continuing
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
WAUKESHA - Telephones used to be a means for family and
friends to keep in touch, even from far away, but now
they have also turned into a vehicle for scammers to try
and swindle people out of their personal information or
A far cry from
“is your refrigerator running?,” today’s phone scammers often
prey on unsuspecting victims by posing as businesses or even
people they’d normally trust, said Lisa Schiller, chief
investigator and media relations officer for the Better Business
Bureau of Wisconsin.
Here are the
top four scams Schiller said the BBB often hears complaints
1.) Caller ID spoofing
scammers use caller ID “spoofing” technology to impersonate the
phone numbers of local businesses or even the would-be victim
himself. People look at the caller ID and see a familiar name,
and pick up the phone to hear a robo-call.
in one common version, a recording prompts people to verify
their credit card number under the guise of lowering their
2.) Tech support scams
scammers often claim to be from Microsoft tech support and then
try to gain remote access to victims’ computers.
says she received one of the calls. Webster, who works with
computers on a daily basis, realized almost immediately that the
directions being given were the same steps she follows when her
IT department needs full, remote access to her computer. She
says she did not allow the caller to proceed any further,”
Microsoft, once these scammers have access to the computer they
can install malicious software, steal personal information, take
control of the computer remotely or direct consumers to
fraudulent websites where they are asked to enter their credit
online Safety and Security Center states that neither Microsoft
nor its partners make unsolicited phone calls.
3.) Tax or IRS-related scams
the BBB warns that scammers posing as Internal Revenue Service
officials often threaten jail time and loss of property to
residents who owe taxes.
The BBB has
received calls from residents who say they even receive
voicemail messages stating they need to contact the IRS
immediately or face legal consequences. Other messages threaten
arrest by U.S. Marshals for failure to pay the correct amount of
these IRS and tax-related phone scams are being reported to BBBs
the IRS, the agency never contacts taxpayers by phone requesting
money. They also never contact taxpayers by email. If the IRS
has an issue that requires your response, the contact would be
made by U.S. mail, Schiller said.
4.) “Grandparent” scam
often receive reports of someone calling an elderly victim and
claiming to be a grandson or daughter who has fallen on hard
luck - either domestically or abroad - and needs grandma or
grandpa to wire them money.
the scam is “picking up steam” again.
someone’s trying to scam you?
recommends the following tips if you receive one of these scam
* Hang up -
Don’t provide any information over the phone. Call the IRS, your
bank, grandchild or local business directly.
personal information - In response to an incoming call, never
give out any personal or financial information such as your
Social Security number, financial information or any passwords
and other identifying information.
* Report scams
to the BBB Serving Wisconsin at 414-847-6000 or toll-free
throughout the state at 1-800-273-1002 or at the “scam-stoppers”
site at http://www.bbb.org/wisconsin/get-consumer-help/scam-source/.