The pandemic of 2020 brought a lot of misfortune to the entire world. This includes the enhancement or addition of new phone scams for the new year. Scammers will stop at nothing to trick people out of their savings. As the years go on, they only get more and more inventive with their schemes.
Robocalls vs. Spam Callers
Robocalls are illegal to send in America. The reason why they still happen so frequently is that the perpetrator can be difficult to track down and charge. These calls are pre-recorded, so the listener does not speak to an actual person. The message may mention pressing certain buttons to speak to a representative or give information. If you press the button, you may be locking yourself into a situation where you accidentally buy something or give out confidential information. The best thing to do is to hang up right away.
Spam callers are when there is a real person on the other end of the phone. These can be more difficult to identify as scams because people can be more persuasive and harder to hang up on. These people have the purpose of coercing any sort of personal information from you. This could include your age, name, address, banking information, or social security number. Whatever you give them, they will end up profiting from in some nefarious way. Hang up right away and do not give them anything to work with.
This is an old scam that has gotten revamped during the past year. A fake IRS agent will call and ask to verify your social security number. If you fail to comply, you will hear that jail time is a consequence. During the pandemic, people would listen to the call because they were expecting to hear information about their Covid-19 relief stimulus cheque. Otherwise, they wanted to hear information about Covid-19 updates or new grants that were available to apply for. This is when the imposter would trick them and collect confidential data. These types of calls are likely to continue into 2021, especially as tax season grows nearer.
Family Member Calls
Another common phone scam is when someone calls and pretends to be a member of your family. This is often directed at elderly individuals over the age of 65. The scammer will call, say ‘hi grandma/grandpa’, and ask if the individual knows who they are. The individual will then say the name of one of their grandchildren, and the scam will unfold. These are primarily focused on getting the grandparent to wire money to help the grandchild out of a dangerous situation.
One-ring calls is a scam that has been rising in popularity. This is when you get a robocall that only rings one time before hanging up. This can happen several times throughout the day, all with different phone numbers. It is only human nature to be curious, especially if they think that someone is trying very hard to reach them. If someone calls the number back, you will end up getting charged right away at a high rate. A further con is encouraging them to stay on the phone for as long as possible so the charges grow very high. This happens because the person thinks that they have won a prize, and they need to wait a few minutes before they can claim it. It might be necessary to get a new number if you are being bombarded by such one-ring calls that it is interfering in your everyday life.
How to Combat Phone Scams
One method of combating these scams is by performing a reverse phone lookup on the caller. The service works by searching the web for any information relating to the number. It can match the number to a person’s name, address, company, and social media activity. Once you have this information, you can report them to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) for international complaints. For domestic complaints, contact the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). The FTC or FCC will then take down the scammer and prevent them from defrauding anyone else.
Another thing you could try is adding your number to the National Do Not Call List. This will take about a month to go into effect, but it should help reduce the number of spam calls you get. If you are lucky, it might eliminate all the spam. If you have an older friend or relative, it may be worth asking if they want to put their number on the list as well. It is better to be safe, particularly when it comes to elders, who are more vulnerable to scams.