An “ever-increasing onslaught” of phone scams has authorities scrambling to track down persistent fraudsters.
These phone fraudsters primarily target elderly people, posing as everyone from stone-broke grandchildren, tax collectors or technical support. The calls come in the form of unwanted robocalls, telemarketing sales calls with recorded messages and often with masked caller identification used to trick their victims into thinking a legitimate entity is calling. According to the Wall Street Journal, complaints to the Federal Trade Commission about these calls have hit a record of 1.7 million in the first quarter of 2016, up 41% the previous year.
Federal law states that political campaigns, charities and groups such as schools are allowed to use robocalls, but telemarketers are forbidden to use recorded sales calls without a consumer’s consent. However, the technology isn’t new and is easily accessible. It has become increasingly easier for scammers to access mass-dialing technology, cheap long-distance rates and inexpensive labor. These fraudsters are often from overseas call centers in India, the Philippines, Nigeria and Peru. This technology has even gone as far as contributing to phoned-in bomb threats and hoaxes to prompt disruptive evacuations.
3 Tips to Avoid The Phone Scam Onslaught:
**Know How Your Contacts Communicate **
Familiarize yourself with the method of contact and persons that your doctor, IRS, tax guy, family and other important organizations use to get in touch with you. If you are receiving an urgent call from an unknown physician assistant at the doctor’s office, treat the call with suspicion. If your grandson usually communicates with you via email, it might be strange to be receiving a call from him.
Always be skeptical
Does the caller sound like your granddaughter? Does she usually call asking for such a large sum of money? Always assume that any calls involving a payment or large sum of money are a scam. Even if they are offering YOU a large sum of money, they shouldn’t be asking for anything from you in return. Also, NEVER give out your personal information or bank information, no matter how appealing the call seems.
These scams usually have a sense of urgency to try to make you act on impulse. You may want to tell them you will call them back and make a call to the person they say they are. If the IRS calls you to tell you that you owe a large sum of money, the best option is to simply hang up. The IRS never calls people for money. If you’re afraid of being rude, ask for a call back number and time to review your situation. If the caller continues to be pushy, this could be an additional sign of a scam.
While we write about this topic often, the sad truth is phone scams seem here to stay. Keep yourself, your parents and grandparents safe from such tactics by staying on top of who is calling.