A guide on how to prevent phone scams

Adam Alred • 06 Feb 2023 • 5 min read

Whether we like it or not, individuals with criminal intent frequently use our phones as tools against us to scam people so they can steal their money and personal information with minimal effort.

And despite everyone knowing about them, this sort of dirty trick sees countless individuals and families losing their hard-earned dollars to scammers every single year thanks to the latest phone scams. 

So, if these sorts of tricks are constantly evolving, what can you do to prevent yourself from being scammed by accident? Well, fortunately, onn top of having an air tight phone answering policy,  there are several things you can pay attention to when on the phone to stop even the newest phone scams from getting the better of you.

1. Government agency impersonation scams

While many scammers try to keep a low profile, some are bold and aggressive, using a tactic known as  government agency impersonation in order to pretend to be from government agencies such as the IRS, the Social Security Administration, or even the FBI.

Even the phone number they call from may falsely identify the call as coming from one of numerous government agencies, which is one of the reasons you may be caught off-guard by such a scheme. In some cases, they may even give a convincingly fake name of a non-existent government agency to trick their confused and alarmed victims.

However, although these calls may seem official, yoou can tell that they’re scams right from the get-go because under FTC guidelines, government agencies will never call or text a person directly to ask for payment or sensitive information.

So, if someone calls you asking for these while claiming to be from the government, hang up immediately.

2. Fake charity scams

Another favorite tactic of scammers, particularly with the latest phone scams, pretending to be a fake charity is often one of the subtlest ways they can rob you of your savings because it is so mundane.

With this sort of call, a scammer will claim to be from a recognized charity before asking for an immediate donation.  They might be persistent or they might ask you for specific information you wouldn’t normally provide.

Either way, if you’re at all suspicious of a supposed charity call, then the best option is to hang up and then call back after a few minutes to see if the caller was genuine. Alternatively, compare the number that called with the official charity contact details, as well as their policy on asking for donations.

3. Job and career scams

Most commonly coming through messenger apps rather than direct calls, unsolicited job opportunities that require applicants to download a messaging app are employment scams meant to get information, such as one’s date of birth, signature, and social security number.

The scammer, posing as a recruiter, will typically have a victim complete an application through the app to get the information they desire after downloading the app. Once this is done, they’ll either drop off contact entirely or attempt to get the victim to then pay for “equipment” they’ll never actually receive.

In other words, do not reply to any job application that comes through via messenger or asks you to download something.

4. Banking call scams

Unsurprisingly, banks are traditionally the target of regular criminal activity, and it’s no surprise that scammers use their phones to steal from unsuspecting individuals in this regard as well.

A banking call scam specifically is a scam in which a criminal poses as a representative from a particular bank. The victim is then told there’s a problem with their account or password or that there’s been suspicious credit or debit card activity, and that they need to provide certain details to solve this issue. 

Ultimately, the scammer will likely request one’s PIN and other banking information, supposedly for verification purposes, before hanging up and misappropriating funds from your account. 

The good news, however, is that these sort of calls are very easy to see through. For one thing, banks will never ask their customers to provide passwords or other sensitive information over the phone. So if you do receive a call asking for this, hang up and then call the bank directly to verify the call’s legitimacy. 

5. Technical support scams

Tech support is one of many things that come to mind when talking of phone scams. They are, however, a problem that people should know and avoid.

With this sort of scam, scammers call unsuspecting consumers pretending to be a technician from a computer repair company. When the individual pick up the unsolicited call, they’re told their computer has a virus or another problem requiring urgent attention.

Playing off of their victims’ immediate concerns, the scammer tries to convince them to give them remote computer access before demanding immediate payment for services using a wire transfer.

It should really go without saying that users should never give anyone remote access to their computer without direct and authentic communication from a company you know you work with. 

Tech support companies aren’t monitoring people’s computers for problems and don’t call people by phone to warn about an issue, which means you need to hang up the phone if anyone ever calls to tell you this. 

6. Debt collection scams

Last but not least, debt collectors scams are some of the most intimidating options out there used by scammers and people with or without debt can often find themselves panicking on the phone with someone who claims they’re from a debt collection agency.

Phoney debt collectors use threats of arrest and aggression to frighten people into making immediate payments over the phone. For most, if the individual doesn’t owe any debt, the scam will be obvious. But for people who owe money, you should never give out any sensitive information over the phone.

When faced with this interaction, you should always ask questions about the debt and the collection agency. A scam artist won’t be able to answer questions or provide any detailed information on your situation, which will highlight it as a scam.

What are the common signs of a scam?

Now that you know what some of the latest and newest phone scams are, what are the most common signs you can look for when on the phone in order to identify a caller as a scam?

Below are the main things you should take note of when faced with a potential scam call:

  1. The call is unsolicited
  2. The caller makes too-good-to-be-true promises 
  3. The caller ask for immediate payment after promising prizes or making threats
  4. The caller asks for payment via a wire transfer, as a gift, or via a prepaid card, or money app.  
  5. The caller asking for sensitive personal information like a password, credit card numbers, or one’s social security number
  6. Continual pressure from the caller to meet their demands as soon as possible 

How to report phone scams 

If you’re reading the above and beginning to wonder whether you might have fallen victim to one of the latest phone scams, you’ll need to report the incident to the relevant body. According to government advice, the best agency to notify is ReportFraud

Steps to avoid phone scams

With the signs to look out for now front and center, let’s wrap up this article by examining the main things you can do to avoid phone scams. 

See our top tips below:

  1. Allow your phone to ring out when receiving calls from an unknown number. You should then check a number for scams online, to see if it has a history of reported fraud.
  2. Block unwanted calls by downloading call-blocking apps on your cell phone.
  3. Use call-blocking or labelling services and your home phone to divert calls.
  4. Hang up immediately without following prompts or pressing any keys when asked.
  5. Verify what’s being said directly after hanging up by looking up and calling the company that’s supposedly made the call.

And there you have it, these are all the details you need to deal with any scam calls you face in the future. But another way to prevent this from happening to your business is to make use of a Live Answering Service. 

Get in touch with our team to learn more about this, and don’t forget that we have plenty of other blogs you can read for similar information, such as identifying robocalls spamming customers and VPN info for use on the web

By Adam Alred

VP of IT @ VoiceNation