Tag: phone scam

Robocalls are getting center stage these days, but as they get more and more attention, are you aware that there are different types of unwanted calls, and all these types of calls aren’t necessarily from robots?

Just like apples, that come in a variety of types such as Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Pink Ladies, phone scammers are tricking you with a variety of ways to steal your identity or personal information.

Now’s the time to test your phone scam knowledge. How many of these phone tactics can you pinpoint as a type of phone scam? Good luck!

Unwanted Scam 1:
It’s three months after tax season, and you’ve just received a call informing you that there is a warrant out for your arrest due to your involvement with tax fraud. If you do not want drastic measures to be executed, they tell you that you must call the IRS back at the following number.

a) Bobbing
b) Phishing
c) Wading
d) Floating


Phishing: When you receive a fraudulent message that tricks you into believing it’s from a legitimate establishment (bank, IRS, phone company etc.), that is called phishing. Scammers will give you phone numbers to call that will try to acquire your personal information and steal your identity.

Unwanted Scam 2:
You receive a text message that states your bank account has been compromised and your account has been suspended. The only way to reactivate your account is to click on a link to verify your personal information.

a) SMiShing
c) Bumping
d) Crashing


SMiShing (SMS phishing): When a scammer sends a text message that tries to trick you into clicking a link. The link then downloads a virus or other malware onto your mobile device. These scams try to look like legitimate alerts from your bank, however, it’s a scam to steal money from your account.

Unwanted Scam 3:
You get a call but you don’t recognize the number. However, they do have a local area code so it must be someone from your area, right?

a) Spelunking
b) Sketching
c) Kerplunking
d) Spoofing


Caller ID Spoofing: When a caller disguises themselves, by name or number (or both!), by transmitting information to your caller ID display. This tactic is often used to trick consumers into giving away personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally.

Unwanted Scam 4:
Your phone rings and when you pick up, you hear an automated recording alerting you that your credit card has had fraudulent activity. The automated messaged then instructs you to enter your credit card number on the key pad to confirm your account.

a) Frying
b) Crabbing
c) Vishing
d) Curling


Vishing (Voice phishing): When a scammer steals a consumer’s personal information or money using the telephone network. They claim to be from a legitimate company and request your personal information to resolve the so-called financial issue.

So, how’d you do? Whether you got them all right on your first try, or maybe just one or two, we hope that seeing and hearing these real-life examples will help keep you safe the next time a scammer comes to call.

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You won’t believe what this amazing woman did to this scammer! Aware of the well-known 866 scam number, a woman from Ontario, Canada received a voicemail informing her that there was a warrant out for her arrest due to unpaid taxes.

Honing in on her inner-actress, this woman called back the so-called “Representative from the Department of Revenue Canada” and turned the tables on him. Check out how she got the last laugh!

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Your phone rings, you pick up, and before you can put down your ham sandwich and register what’s going on, you’re told that you’ve just won a million dollars!

But wait a minute, you don’t remember entering any contests, but who cares right, I mean imagine the things you could buy with a million dollars!


Before you get caught up in planning your retirement and your next whirlwind vacation to Iceland, remember what you just told yourself: “you don’t remember entering any contests.” Red flag right there; we’re sorry to say it, but you’ve just become a victim of the “Lucky Winner” scam.

What once flooded our e-mails but we’ve now been trained to ignore, are now not only ringing into our phones, but are coming in as text messages too!

As we’ve been trained not to click on flashy ads with too good to be true gifts, prizes, and deals, we must do the same with unwanted calls and text messages.

Here’s a few ways you can avoid becoming the loser of a “Lucky Winner” scam:

1) You Must Enter to Win
Like we previously said, if you don’t remember entering a contest, it’s a 99% guarantee that you didn’t and you’re being had. Hang up the phone before the scammer convinces you that you “may” have entered a drawing or were qualified through a website you visited, because before you know it, they’re drawing you back into a “one time offer that you just can’t miss.”

2) Never Give Out Personal Information
Never give out personal information to unknown callers. It’s important to know who you’re dealing with before you give out your personal information. From your name to your birthday to where you live, scammers can be anywhere in the world and all they need is that one little tip about you to crack into your personal information.

3) Screen Calls with a Caller ID and Call Blocking App
Leave the dirty work to apps that provide caller ID and call blocking. The temptation of believing you have won an amazing prize is less likely to happen when you have a smartphone app that flags spam and scam callers and blocks calls from ringing through.

4) Raise Awareness and Report Scams
As scammers target the young and elderly, do your due diligence and share the scam with friends, family, and loved ones to help them from becoming the next victim. It’s also best to report scams to the FCC.

The “Lucky Winner” scam comes in a number of variations, but the end goal for these scammers is to ask for your email address, phone number, or any personal information you shouldn’t be sharing. Being suckered into believing you’ve won can lead to unexpected charges on your phone bill or a flood of unwanted calls.

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When asked to describe the typical victim of phone scams, most people say the same thing:

Elderly, uneducated, low income, not financially stable, naïve, etc. 

Sound like what you would envision? That’s what I would say. Well, the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust did some research on phone scam victims and their findings may surprise you.

Most individuals believe that the only person who would fall for a phone scam is someone “not like moi” (or “me” for those who don’t speak français). Seventy-seven percent of survey respondents also said females were more likely than males to get scammed, but I like to think that’s just because women are more known for their nurturing, caring side than those brutes of men [not you, Dad]. In other words, what the BBB calls the “pitied” victims: those who elicit a desire to help and protect verses the “scorned” victims: those who are ignorant or stupid.

All right, so we’re all picturing your average Joe/Jane here getting scammed:


Well, we all pictured wrong.

Survey respondents who acknowledged losing money to a phone scam in the prior year were both younger AND more educated than the sample as a whole. We’re talking 25-34 year olds with a college degree. [Looks over left shoulder, and right shoulder, hangs head….ugh, that’s me. CURSE MY DEMOGRAPHICS!]

Not so fast, 35-44 and 45-54 year olds, don’t consider yourselves out of this game. You tied for 2nd place in most likely to get duped. But don’t worry. Even if you’re residing in or nearby the “most likely scam victims” category, there is still hope for us yet.

Nearly 80% of all respondents said that having knowledge of different scams and how they’re executed prior to being targeted was highly preventative. Now, in order to protect your future self from getting scammed, take these two steps:

  1. Protect your phone. The best approach is a proactive one. Write that down. Find a phone or an app that provides phone protection such as spam alerts or auto-blocking for fraudulent calls. If fraudsters can’t get through to you, they can’t scam you.
  2. Do your research. The BBB offers an interactive tool called Scam Tracker where consumers can report scams and fraud. See what scams are floating in your area, track a specific scam, or for schadenfreude, you can even see how much money has been lost.

To read the full white paper “Cracking the Invulnerability Illusion” from the BBB, click on the image below:

bbb victims

Stay safe out there, folks.

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Chicago 2010. Weather: Probably snowing. Me: Standing in my kitchen, listening to an automated message, waiting to learn if I would be summoned for Jury Duty. This was my chance and I wanted my butt in one of those twelve seats. Justice! Justice for all! Sadly, my surname failed me that day: only last names between L-Z were selected. Six years later, I’m still waiting for my chance. [Fingers crossed!]

With a new scam floating in our system, citizens are being made to believe that they missed their jury duty summons. Scammers will call and say that an arrest warrant is being issued for skipping jury duty. As jury duty is everyone’s legal duty [places hand over heart], victims of this scam get nervous and will show up at courthouses thinking that they are going to get arrested.

However, an unnecessary trip to the courthouse isn’t the worst possible outcome in this case. Scammers are demanding credit card information to pay off the “fine” for skipping jury duty. They have also been asking for social security numbers to “clear the charge”. As noted in Seven Steps to Avoid Call Scams, only give out personal information if YOU are the one who made the call.

It’s important to note that the caller ID on your phone could identify the caller as an official business. “U.S. Government” perhaps, or “King County Sheriff’s Office”. If they’re really sassy, maybe even “Bald Eagle Freedom Ambassadors”. While the caller ID may look legitimate, if you suspect spam, you’re probably right and should act accordingly. The FCC has a Complaint Board where you may register known scammers. Additionally, there are scam identification apps that will alert you if the call is suspected spam.

When in doubt, Bye Felicia that spammer and block it or hang up immediately.

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