Phone Scams – How to Protect the Older People in Your Life
Fake telemarketing is a billion dollar business for scammers and the large majority of the victims are over the age of 50. Phone scams target seniors because older adults are twice as likely to make a purchase over the telephone.
There have been many schemes over the years to manipulate individuals into giving strangers information or access for fraudulent reasons. Modern day criminals are using technology to take advantage of people who may not be aware of these dangers, especially the elderly.
Here are a two of the most popular phone schemes that are used by scammers to steal money and information. Remember there are numerous phone scams out there, so hopefully this will give you some ideas of what to look out for if someone is calling you.
Spoofing is when someone is pretending to be someone they are not. This can be done by scammers using caller ID to use a phone number you may be familiar with, such as your credit union or bank phone number. The scam goes like this: You receive a phone call from a number that resembles your credit union or bank. They claim charges were made to your debit card. They may give you some information that seems legitimate, such as the last 4 digits of your ATM card. During the conversation they will want you to give them information to verify who you are. This may include information such as the PIN number of your account, or your mother’s maiden name. Remember, they called YOU, not the other way around. If the credit union or bank called you, they would have the information needed for the conversation. You should never give this information out at any point. If the conversation starts feeling suspicious, then you should ask for their name and phone number to call them back. Then call the credit union or bank. Look up the phone number from a trusted source. Does the phone number match? Call the bank directly to see if there actually an issue. Under no circumstances should you give out your PIN number on the phone.
This involves a phone call that may say you owe money for tax filings purposes or you are entitled to a refund. It may include official-sounding details like a badge number or the caller ID may be made to look like it came from a local IRS office. They may even say you will be taken into custody by the local police or cite you with a fine. This is definitely a scam.
There are signs to let you know this is a scammer and not the real IRS. The IRS will never call you. The IRS will send correspondence through the mail. The IRS will never ask for payment on the telephone. Do not give debit card numbers over the phone. The IRS would not have local law enforcement brought in to have you arrested for not paying a “bill”. For more information concerning this issue, including how to report a possible scam, please check out this link: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/scam-phone-calls-continue-irs-identifies-five-easy-ways-to-spot-suspicious-calls.
The best defense is to stay alert and be aware that a scam is possible whenever you answer the phone. Don’t let telemarketing scams take your hard-earned savings.