ringing phone too often is just one more sign of a scam.
Uh oh, who is it now? The IRS demanding cash on the
spot? A guy yelling at me and threatening to lock me up
if I don’t pay up? That whacked out guy who calls to
"fix" your computer?
things aren’t quite that bad. Every single phone call
you receive isn’t really from a con artist.
seriously, the fraudsters are dialing for dollars big
17-year-old son said a caller told him he won a trip to
the Bahamas. Of course, he had a special Social Security
number to offer them in case anyone asked:
students report that they’re getting calls from people
claiming to be from the local police or another
government entity threatening arrest, according to the
Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan and the
caller tells the student to send money via a prepaid
card or wire money quickly in order to avoid jail time.
The fraudsters might claim the student faces an arrest
warrant for unpaid student loans or unpaid taxes or even
some cases, the con artists use legitimate-looking phone
numbers that spoof the caller ID to make it appear that
the call is from the sheriff’s office, the state
police, the Internal Revenue Service or another
IRS scam remains hot, as various communities report
complaints about con artists trying to make a quick buck
by pretending to be from the IRS and demanding immediate
payment. Some towns in Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin have
reported a flurry of the impostor IRS calls in early
Kentucky, for example, authorities earlier had warned
that IRS impostors had spoofed phone numbers to make it
look like the calls were coming from the Kentucky State
Police Post 7. The caller said the Kentucky State Police
had a warrant out for an arrest because they owed the
IRS money. The state police, of course, do not act as a
collection agency for the IRS.
Volzke, vice president of reputation services for
Whitepages, said consumers need to realize that scammers
can even find it easier to phone you to con you than it
is to scam you via email. After all, spam filters catch
more of the phony emails before they even reach
phone calls have become one of the few doors that have
been left open," Volzke said.
consumers, he noted, often have no qualms about posting
their phone numbers on Facebook or Twitter when they are
asking someone, maybe a major company, to contact them
about an issue. Or maybe they include a phone number in
an online resume. But web crawlers can actively search
for those phone numbers for others to use.
that lets scammers easily craft messages and
pitches," Volzke said.
breaches also generate a list of phone numbers that can
be sold on the black market, said Volzke, whose company
has a free app to block unwanted calls.
suggestions: Keep your phone number as much of a secret
as possible. Never believe that what you see on your
caller ID is automatically the real deal. It’s too
easy to make a caller ID seem like it’s from a
you’re not sure, just hang up," Volzke said.
also need to realize that the cost of entry to scammers
is low when it comes to making all those calls, he said,
given the computer-based technology.
problem is not going away," Volzke said.
phone scams: Some consumers report that they’ve heard
from someone who claims that a lawsuit has been filed in
their name. And then the caller demands the person send
money within a half hour or face spending six months in
caller claimed to be an attorney named "Sam
Wilson" at a 954 area code.
have reported robocalls from someone claiming to be from
legal center with a warning that an arrest warrant will
soon be prepared unless someone calls that number back
Michigan, one consumer reported to the AARP Fraud Watch
Network that a scammer even called her mother late last
year claiming that her cell phone service would be shut
off if she did not pay immediately. The cell phone
provider did not make the call.
course, consumers should never give out Social Security
numbers or bank account information, never rush to put
money on a prepaid card to settle some score or ever
believe that the IRS is going to send someone out of the
blue to arrest you right now.
Federal Trade Commission takes consumer complaints at
impostor scams and other scams at www.ftc.gov/complaint
or at the FTC’s Consumer Response Center at
unsettling as the calls are to receive, the best
approach could be to avoid answering the repeat calls.
Slam the phone. Or maybe you want to have a sense of
humor and play along by saying you’d rather win a trip
to Jamaica, instead of the Bahamas, so you’d have a
chance to meet the scammers face to face.