June 15, 2021
Kellie M. Spawton
Phone scams come in many forms, but they tend to make similar promises and threats, or ask you to pay certain ways. Here’s how to recognize a phone scam.
Fraudsters may pretend to be an employee of the bank, advising you something is wrong with your card or account, and ask for your account number, debit card PIN, full SSN, or online banking credentials to resolve the problem. A bank will NEVER call and ask you for your full account or debit card number, PIN, SSN, or online banking credentials. If someone asks you for this information, hang up and call your bank right away.
There is no prize
The caller might say you were “selected” for an offer or that you’ve won a lottery. But if you have to pay to get the prize, it's not a prize.
You won’t be arrested
Scammers might pretend to be law enforcement or a federal agency. They might say you’ll be arrested, fined, or deported if you don’t pay taxes or some other debt right away. The goal is to scare you into paying. But real law enforcement and federal agencies won’t call and threaten you.
You don’t need to decide now
Most legitimate businesses will give you time to think their offer over and get written information about it before asking you to commit. Take your time. Don’t get pressured into making a decision on the spot.
There’s never a good reason to send cash or pay with a gift card
Scammers will often ask you to pay in a way that makes it hard for you to get your money back — by wiring money, putting money on a gift card, prepaid card or cash reload card, or using a money transfer app. Anyone who asks you to pay that way is a scammer.
Government agencies won’t call to confirm your sensitive information
It’s never a good idea to give out sensitive information like your Social Security number to someone who calls you unexpectedly, even if they say they’re with the Social Security Administration or IRS.
You shouldn’t be getting all those calls
If a company is selling something, it needs your written permission to call you with a robocall. And if you’re on the National Do Not Call Registry, you shouldn’t get live sales calls from companies you haven’t done business with before. Those calls are illegal. If someone is already breaking the law calling you, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. At the very least, it’s a company you don’t want to do business with.