Most everyone has received one of those phone calls where the caller insists upon payment. Either they can fix your credit card debt, you owe back taxes, a family member needs your help, or some other bogus claim. Many people recognize these scams for what they are, but for some, especially seniors, the callers are convincing enough to seem legitimate. Thousands of people have been terrified by threats of violence or arrest, had their identities stolen, and been swindled out of their hard-earned cash. This is not a new trend. Telephone fraud has been a concern for years,, but lately scammers have found new ways to update and reuse old scams. As a consumer, it’s important to be aware of the latest developments in phone scams to protect yourself and your families.
New methods of payment
Traditionally, when asking for money, scammers have requested payment via Money Gram or Western Union, or have demanded direct access to the victim’s credit card or bank account information. Anti-fraud organizations and the media have tried to shed a bright light on these tactics, however, and consumers are wising up. Now, scammers are changing their approach as well. AARP warns its readers that Many scammers will ask for payment in the form of an iTunes gift card. They will tell consumers to purchase the card and then give them the 16 digit card number which allows the scammer access to the funds on the card. This method of payment is virtually untraceable and allows scammers the anonymity they need. If you receive a call asking for payment via an iTunes gift card, it’s most likely a scam.
IRS scams continue to be one of the most common types of phone scams used today. A consumer will receive a call from someone claiming that they owe back taxes and that the full amount must be paid immediately or he or she risks arrest. The caller will offer to take the payment right then and instruct the consumer that there isn’t time to contact a tax professional or attorney. The new twist on this scam, according to Forbes, is that the caller will invite consumers to pay using a prepaid debit card that is supposedly linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. The scammers hope that by mentioning the EFPTS, which is a real way to pay the IRS, consumers will recognize it and feel comfortable handing over their cash. Unfortunately the prepaid debit cards are not linked to the EFPTS at all, and the consumers have just been scammed. It’s important to remember that the IRS will not randomly call to inform you of back taxes and that you can always call them directly to check your tax status thereby avoiding a scam for taxes you do not owe.
You can reduce the amount of telephone scam calls you receive by getting on the Do Not Call Registry in the U.S. and the Do Not Call List in Canada. Scams will probably always exist, but the best way to stop them is by not allowing the scammers to profit. Be aware of the latest scam trends, and always check to see if a company or organization is legitimate before revealing personal information or completing any monetary transactions.
- One of the best ways to stop scammers in their tracks is to be careful.
- Don’t believe that someone is who they claim they are.
- Use a reverse phone lookup website to see where a phone number is location and who is calling.
- Never make a payment via gift cards or give your credit card details to someone over the phone.