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Protect Yourself From Phone Scams
Not all calls were fraudulent, however, the study revealed a 13% surge in phone scams, with 69% of participants receiving at least one scam call over the past six months. One in eight people report receiving over 20 different scam calls in the same period, which is four times as many people who reported that volume of scam calls in 2015.
While regular robocalls are a nuisance, scammers are potentially dangerous. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, fraudsters posing as IRS agents have accumulated $54 million from unsuspecting victims since October 2013.
Aside from tax scams, you should be wary of callers posing as debt collectors, employment agencies, or a sweepstakes company. The FTC have recently warned about callers claiming to be with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, demanding “fees” for routine services. They also shared some helpful tips:
- Play hard to get – never give into a caller who pressures you to make up your mind on the spot.
- Be wary of unknown callers offering “free” bonuses or services as bait. Question any fees (e.g. shipping and handling) that you would need to pay in order to get the freebies. Remember, free is free – if you have to pay, it’s a purchase, not a prize or gift.
- Don’t know? Don’t answer! Avoid answering the phone whenever you see an unknown number, it is one of easiest ways to avoid getting caught up in a scam. If it is someone who needs to talk to you, they will leave a message.
If you’re receiving these calls on your cell phone, which, within the study, was the case for eight out of 10 scam calls, you can utilize one of several apps that automatically identify incoming spam and fraud calls.
- If you are willing to purchase an app, TrapCall and Truecaller (available for both iPhone and Android phones) are some of the most highly rated call blocking apps.
- If you’re looking for a free service, Android users can try Should I Answer? while iPhone users can try the Hiya app.
- If you want to avoid downloading another app, you can manually block a number on most smartphones.
No matter how you choose to handle these calls, remember to never give personal or private information to anyone over the phone. In addition, never buy a pre-paid gift card for anyone who claims you owe them money.
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Tags: Call-blocker apps, Robocalls, Safety Tips, Scam calls, Spam calls