Telephone fraud

Phone scams are as big a problem now as they ever were before— and some of the most treacherous scams are growing in popularity. Robocalling and number ‘spoofing’ technology has only made these scams more complex and difficult to detect.

In the modern, high-tech world, online scams are on the rise but plenty of fraudsters still rely on old-fashioned phone scams to con innocent people.

Phone scams exist since the inception of the landlines. But due to the increased usage of smartphones, nearly everyone has access to their devices all the time. This means that for fraudsters there are many more opportunities to trick people with false claims.

Though a lot of people assume that only the elderly fall for such scams, but as phone scams are growing more and more sophisticated, anyone can fall victim to them.

Most commonly, scam callers pose as representatives of government agencies or known tech, retail, travel, or financial companies, supposedly calling to obtain important information. Fraudsters might also impersonate charitable organizations or even your grandchildren, playing on family bonds to extort money. And, of course, they are thinking a lot about the COVID-19. The pandemic was the major topic of scam calls that pried personal and sensitive information loose from the victims in 2020 as tricksters exploited people’s vulnerabilities for their health and financial well beings.

How to detect a phone scam?

  • Unsolicited calls from people pretending to be government agents, public utility, or major tech firms such as Apple, IBM. These companies will rarely make a cold call to you unless they have first communicated by other means.
  • Unsolicited calls from charitable organizations, especially after a natural disaster.
  • Calls pitching products, services, or other offers that sound too good to be true. Common ones include free product trials, medical devices, cheap travel packages, low-risk, high-return investments.
  • An unauthorized call from an automated sales company. That’s an illegal robocall and most certainly a scam.

How to avoid phone scams?

  • Do not answer unknown callers. It is recommended not to entertain unknown caller IDs, especially from the unknown service provider. If you do get interested in the service then research the company’s reputation.
  • Hang up on robocalls. If an unknown company has contacted you via robocall – it’s illegal. Do not press on any button to speak with an agent, nor press any button to be removed from the calling list. This would result in more robocalls.
  • Get a call blocking app. These apps help in blocking unknown numbers from reaching your phone, even if you switch to a new number.
  • Do not disclose personal information. Do not confirm any of the information such as account numbers, house address, ownership of any asset, or computer usage.
  • Record the call. Ask basic questions such as who is calling, the address, etc. you will be surprised to see the number of cold calls hang up on you on inquiry. If the call is disconnected, it surely is a scam.

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