It seems like every day, there is a new telephone scam making the rounds. Especially since covid began with everyone being at home so much more, it can seem like you’re getting calls every day.
These scam avoidance tips from Paul McCarthy provide best advice on how to recognise and thereby protect yourself from falling victim to online scams and phone scams, allowing you to safeguard your savings and your identity, and to avoid the anguish and distress that can be caused by such schemes.
What is A Phone Scam?
A phone scam is when a fraudster contacts you by phone and tries to trick you into giving them money or your personal information. They may claim to be from a government agency, a charity, or a company you know. They might say there’s an emergency and ask for immediate payment. Or they might try to get you to give them your credit card or bank account number so they can “verify” your identity.
Phone scammers often use high-pressure tactics to try to get you to pay right away. They may also threaten you with arrest or legal action if you don’t cooperate. And they may call repeatedly until they get what they want.
Some phone scammers even spoof their caller ID to make it look like they’re calling from a legitimate organization. This can make it harder for you to know it’s a scam.
How to Avoid Telephone Scams – Paul McCarthy Tips
Here are some tips to help you avoid getting scammed on the phone:
1. Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.
If you don’t recognize the number, let the call go to voicemail.
2. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up.
A real company or government agency will never call and ask for money or your personal information out of the blue.
3. Do some research if you’re not sure whether a call is legitimate.
You can look up the organisation’s phone number online and call them back to check.
4. Never give out your personal information or money to someone you don’t know.
This includes your PPS number, credit card number, or bank account number.
5. If you get a suspicious call, hang up and report it to the Gardai.
If in doubt always hang up the call.
Another important tip is to be aware of what types of scams are currently popular. You can do this by keeping up with the news or checking websites that list current scams.
What Are Common Phone Scams That Are Being Used?
The most common phone scams generally fall into one of three categories:
1. Imposter Scams:
These happen when someone pretends to be from a government agency or well-known company in order to try and steal your money. They might threaten you with arrest or say there is a problem with your social security number.
2. Debt Collection Scams:
In these scams, someone will call pretending to be a debt collector and try to trick you into paying them money that you may not even owe. They might use scare tactics or try to intimidate you.
3. Telemarketing Scams:
This is when someone calls trying to sell you something, like vacation packages or medical supplies, that is often not legitimate. They may also try to get you to give them your credit card information.
More Information on The Various Types of Telemarketing Scams
1. Bank scams
A bank telemarketing scam is when a caller contacts you, pretending to be from your bank or another financial institution. They may ask for sensitive information, such as your account number or Social Security number. They may also try to trick you into sending them money by asking you to wire transfer funds or purchase prepaid cards. Be very careful about giving out any personal information over the phone, and never send money to someone you don’t know.
If you receive a suspicious call from someone claiming to be from your bank, hang up and call the bank’s customer service number to verify the call. If you think you’ve been a victim of a bank telemarketing scam, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.
2. Computer repair scams
Telemarketing scams are when a caller tries to trick you into paying for unnecessary computer repairs. They may claim to be from a well-known company, or say they’ve detected errors on your computer. They might even threaten to disable your computer if you don’t pay them.
These scammers hope that by catching you off guard, they can pressure you into paying for their bogus services. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself from these types of scams.
3. Compensation calls
The caller may tell you that they are aware that you’ve been in an accident and want to help you with your claim. Be very careful with these calls and do not share any information until you know that the call is genuine.
4. Revenue or HMRC scams
Revenue phone scams are when someone calls you pretending to be from the tax office. They may say that you owe taxes and must pay immediately, or threaten legal action if you don’t comply. The caller may also try to trick you into giving them your personal or financial information.
Revenue will never call you out of the blue to ask for money or your personal details. If you get a call like this, it’s a scam. Hang up and report it.
5. Number spoofing
Number spoofing is a type of phone scam where the caller deliberately changes their caller ID to make it look like they’re calling from a legitimate, trusted source.
6. Pensions and investment scams
Pensions and investment scams are becoming more common, and they can be very difficult to spot. These types of scams usually involve someone calling you out of the blue and offering you a free pension review or a ‘too good to be true’ investment opportunity.
They may also promise to reclaim money from an old pension scheme that you’re no longer paying into.
These scammers will often use high-pressure selling tactics to try and get you to make a decision on the spot. They may also give you false information about your current pension arrangements in order to trick you into transferring your savings to their fraudulent scheme.
If you receive one of these calls, it’s important not to engage with the caller and to just hang up the phone. Do not give them any personal or financial information, and if you’re unsure about anything they’ve said, please contact your pension provider or financial adviser for advice.
7. ‘Anti-scam’ scams
When you answer the phone and the caller asks “Can you hear me?”, they may be trying to scam you. This is a new twist on an old scam where the caller tries to get you to say ‘yes’ so they can use your recorded voice to sign you up for unwanted services.
Be very careful about giving out personal information or saying ‘yes’ to anything over the phone. If you’re not sure who is calling, hang up and call the company back using a number you know is legitimate.
How to Spot Scam Phone Calls?
Spotting Scam Phone Calls – Warning Signals
There are a few things you can look out for to spot a scam phone call.
1. Beware aggressive behaviour on the phone
Often, the caller will be very aggressive and try to scare you into paying them money.
2. Beware Someone Asking for Personal Information
They might also ask for personal information like your social security number or credit card number.
3. Beware Too Many Questions
If the person on the other end of the line is asking too many questions or trying to get you to do something that doesn’t seem right, it’s probably best to hang up.
4. Trust Your Gut
If something seems off it probably is.
Additional Tips to Avoid Phone Scams
Make Your Phone Number Private
Speak to your phone service provider, either your landline or your mobile phone about blocking unknown or unwanted calls.
What should I do if I’ve been a victim of a phone scam?
Scammers are constantly finding new ways to trick people and phone scams are changing all the time. If you’ve been the victim of a scam don’t be embarrassed to report it. It can happen to anyone.
By following these tips, you can help keep yourself safe from telephone scams. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do not let yourself be scammed out of your hard-earned money or your personal information. Be smart and stay safe!
Finally, trust your gut. If something about a call feels off, it probably is. Do not be afraid to hang up on a caller if you feel like something is not right. It is better to be safe than sorry.
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