Once again, local law enforcement and consumer protection agencies are warning us of a spike in phone scams.
Examples include callers posing as:
- A member of local sheriff’s office or police department informing you that you have an outstanding citation, then advising you to handle it by paying the fine over the phone immediately.
- A travel agent claiming you’ve been pre-selected for a great vacation deal.
- A sweepstakes alerting you that you’re eligible for a big cash prize.
- The Internal Revenue Service claiming you owe back taxes.
- A tech firm like Apple or Microsoft calling about a product upgrade or warranty.
- A non-profit fundraiser requesting donations especially during the holidays or following a disaster.
- Your grandkids who are in a financial bind.
You may think, I’ve got too much common sense to ever fall for these scams. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that 648,000 incidents, or 36 percent of the 1.8 million fraud complaints in 2021, involved a phone scam with the median loss in phone scams being $1,200, higher than other scams.
Protecting Yourself from Phone Scams:
- Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
- Be aware that law enforcement will never call you or direct you to call another number to pay for anything! Nor will law enforcement handle any court-related fees or fines.
- Never provide your social security number, credit card, or personal information with someone you don’t know for a transaction you didn’t initiate.
- Tech companies such as Microsoft or Apple will rarely call you unless they are responding to a request from you.
- Enter your number into the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry. It won’t stop spam calls, but it will make them easier to spot because most legitimate telemarketers won’t call you if you’re on the registry.
- Use a call-blocking mobile app to screen your calls and weed out scams.
- If you feel a call is a scam, hang up immediately.
- If you feel the call may be legitimate, ask questions and offer to call them back after you’ve done your research. Never commit to anything right away.
- If you do return a call, check to see if the area code is international. You don’t want to incur extra charges to your mobile phone bill.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to call a Marine Bank banking center.