If you’re not receiving at least one spam call a day, you probably soon will be. The telemarketers and scammers are more and more resourceful and it’s getting harder to avoid them completely. Luckily, they’re quite predictable.
Do you live in USA? We have one bad news and one good news for you. As for the bad one: statistically, every 7th call you receive is a spam or a fraud call. And the good one? In most cases, the scammers use similar scenarios. So it’s relatively easy to see through them. In case you’re prepared.
To help you with it, we looked closely at statistics of millions of phone calls made in USA and then we made a list of the most usual scam scenarios. Here it is.
In this post, we cover the most often kinds of scam calls made in USA:
- Tax scam (fake IRS’s text messages and calls)
- Robocallers Rachel and Jennifer
- Tech Support scam
- SMS scam: fake FBI warning
- (Fake) insurance companies’ calls
- (Fake) student loans forgiveness
Yes, we know. This is a yesterday’s news. But scammers don’t give up on trying with this one. The result? According to IRS, thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams.
It all starts with a simple text message or a call in which you learn a disturbing news: you’ve forgotten to pay your taxes. And if you won’t pay it immediately, you’re threatened with arrest and frozen assets.
What you should know here: the real IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to your home or business (such as when you have an overdue tax bill). So how to find out if it’s the real IRS, who’s calling? It’s easy: after receiving a tax warning, supposedly from the IRS, call one of the official numbers listed on IRS’s webpage and check out your tax account for yourself.
According to the IRS itself, the IRS will never:
– call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
– demand that you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. You should also be advised of your rights as a taxpayer.
– threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying. The IRS also can not revoke your driver’s license, business licenses, or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.
You’ve probably already heard about these two. „Rachel“ and „Jennifer“ are two efficient and pretty convincing robocallers. It’s no wonder. Since they’re almost indistinguishable from real people, their targets often don’t even know they’re speaking to a robot.
And the consequences are very real. According to the FTC, these robocallers have swindled people out of millions of dollars by offering two types of phony debt relief: credit card interest rate reduction services and credit card debt elimination services. They usually promise lower interest rates or government funds to pay off debt, and ask people to make initial payments ranging from $500 to $20,000. Of course, the promised help never comes.
There are two big problems with this type of scam. First, because of a cheap access to internet calling services and autodialing, the robocalls in general are on the rise. Second, it’s getting easier for them to hide their true identity and location (thanks to so called spoofing).
Usually, it’s pretty easy to distinguish the real people from robocallers. But it’s different with Rachel and Jennifer, since they’re programmed to anticipate your responses and answer them as real people do. So here are few advices for you.
If not sure who’s calling, try to repeat your question several times. If there’s a robocaller on the other end of the phone line, it will confuse them for sure. And here’s the important thing: never ever hit a button to stop receiving calls, even if you’re told to. Scammers often use this trick to identify and target live respondents. Once they know the number is active, you will receive more calls in the future.
The easiest and the most painless way how to avoid robocalls completely it to get a reliable call blocker that can identify who is calling you. It also blocks unwanted calls that show up on a crowd-sourced spam and robocaller list.
Imagine this. You pick up the phone and then a likeable voice tells you a bad news: your Microsoft or Apple computer has been infected by a virus. Other scenario: you receive a text message or a phone call with a favourable offer: you can get quicker and cheaper internet connection. Under one circumstance: the nice guy, who’s calling, needs an access to your credit card.
So in case you didn’t know… yes, this is a scam, as well. Unless you want to fall for it, never trust anyone when answering the phone (but your own provider or tech support guy, who you’ve already known).
Usually, it all starts with a single text message. It says something like this: “There has been reported a suspicious person in your neighbourhood, don’t you want to buy this cool security system?” Signed: FBI.
As you probably already know, the real FBI has nothing to do with these messages. It’s just another trick how to force you to buy, what you don’t need at all.
By the way: lately, this SMS based scam has been on the decline. However, there’s no reason to celebrate. Since scammers have just changed their tactics: instead of sending text messages, they try to address you more personally with recorded voicemails.
The scammers often use our biggest fears and interests against us. And insurance offers are their popular field. Remember: although not all insurance offers you receive via phone call are a scam, be super careful when answering the phone. Since it’s always better safe than sorry.
So here are some useful tips for you:
- Always ask who precisely is calling you.
- If you are interested in their offer, ask them to send it to you via email.
- Hang up, look for more details online and if you’re still interested, call back.
There are a lot of financial companies that can address you via phone call. And there’s nothing wrong with them (except to the fact they’re bothering you with their calls, of course). But, unfortunately, there are those fake financial companies as well.
They usually take advantage of the fact that the loan register is completely public. Thanks to it, the scammers know about every student loan that was ever taken out. And they can use it for their own good. So the advice here is clear: always be careful when discussing your financial situation (or even your credit card details) with an unknown person via phone call.
(Not an Android user? Let’s look at the new app for your iPhone)
… to be continued
In case you missed it, we tell it once more. Just for sure. Every 7th phone call made in USA is a spam or a scam call. And, every week, the scammers steal millions of dollars from people like you: using only a phone.
But it’s not only about stealing your money. It’s about stealing your time, as well. For this reason, we continue with our list of the most usual spam calls in this post. Check it out as well!