January 9, 2023 at 2:59 pm

8 Common Phone Scams and How You Can Avoid Them

by Matthew Gilligan

It’s an unfortunate fact of life, but there are scammers just about everywhere.

And you and I both know that a lot of these folks use phone scams as their main avenue to try to rip people off.

So keep an eye out for these 8 scams and avoid them at all costs!

1. An FBI impersonator.

This is a scam that would scare just about anyone. Someone calls and says they’re with the FBI and either tells you that there’s a warrant out for your arrest or that you need to pay money to avoid the forfeiture of your assets. The number that appears on your Caller ID might even look like a real FBI phone number. Basically, they’re trying to scare you into wiring them money.

If this happens to you, DO NOT give them any information or send them any money. And it’s imperative that you don’t give them your social security number. The FBI will never contact anyone about matters like this. Instead, call your local FBI office and report the incident.

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Photo Credit: Unsplash,David Hahn

2. Cryptocurrency and QR code.

You might get this scam call from any number of imposters, including someone pretending to be a government worker, a person from a fake utility company, or possibly even a potential romantic partner. This scam revolves around them asking you to send money in the form of cryptocurrency.

They will direct you to a cryptocurrency ATM and send you a QR code that has a digital address in it: when you scan the QR code, your crypto is sent to them and you lose all your money.

You should never, ever send money to someone you’ve never met before or you don’t know. With crypto, there’s no way to get your money back, so always be wary when someone says they want a payment in crypto.

3. A nanny or a caregiver.

If you have your nanny or caregiver services listed online, you could become the target of scammers. Here’s how this scam works: a person contacts a nanny and offers them a job. They then say they will send the nanny a check for the job and they want the nanny to send them money to buy supplies.

The check for the job bounces, the nanny has already sent them money, and, of course, the nanny will never hear from this mystery employer ever again. So now this person is out of a job that never existed and they’ve lost money.

If you work in the nanny/caregiving field, research the company that is offering you work. If you can’t find any reputable reviews or information about them, don’t take the risk.

4. U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be in U.S. Customs and Border Protection, be wary.

This scam has someone claiming to be from one of these agencies calling and saying that they’ve intercepted illegal items that were going to be shipped to your home.

As a result, there is now a warrant out for your arrest and they’ll ask for money via a wire transfer, cryptocurrency, or gift cards and they claim this will make the problem go away.

If you get a call like this, do not cooperate because neither of these agencies operates this way.

5. The “Can you hear me?” scam.

This is a tricky one…

If someone calls and simply says “can you hear me?”, it might be a scam. These callers are looking to get you to say “yes” on a recorded line so they can manipulate audio on their end and claim that you agreed to something that you didn’t agree to.

And, of course, they’ll then try to convince you that you agreed to pay for some kind of scam program.

If someone calls and asks you that specific question, it’s better to say “I can hear you fine” just to be safe.

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Photo Credit: Unsplash,Chris Moore

6. The (fake) IRS.

This scam seems to be very prevalent these days.

If someone calls you claiming to be from the IRS and they demand some kind of payment, it’s a scam. The IRS only gets in touch with people for matters like this through their mail with letters written on their official letterhead.

If this happens, do not give the caller any information, and definitely do not give them your social security number. Call the number back to verify that it is indeed a scam.

7. Banks.

This one is a little bit trickier because banks do call their customers sometimes about financial issues.

If your bank happens to call and wants to know if certain transactions you made are legitimate, simply say “yes” or “no” and don’t give them any more information over the phone.

Even if they know your credit card number, don’t give them your card’s security code, your bank PIN, or any other personal information.

If you get a call like this, call your bank or your credit card company’s customer service number and you’ll most likely find out that this is a scam.

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Photo Credit: Firmbee.com

8. Grandparents.

Sadly, scammers take advantage of a lot of elderly people and prey on their kindness.

One such scam involves calling an elderly person on a crackling phone line, someone saying they are their grandchild, and that they’re in trouble and need money immediately.

Please let your elderly family members and friends know about this scam and tell them that if anyone calls looking for money like this, they need to reach out to other loved ones to confirm the story before they send any money.

Stay safe out there, friends!

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