Phone scams are nothing new, but the way they are being executed now could catch you when you least expect it. How many of you answer calls from unfamiliar numbers? Do you ignore them for good, or do you let your curiosity get the better of you and call back or send them a text?
Don’t! Even though you might be signed up on a “do not call” list, criminals can still find their way through. With the aim of taking your personal information and your money, they’ve come up with a number of techniques to get you to authorize charges, sometimes using your own voice.
Below, we’re going to inform you how some of these scams work so you can protect yourself.
1. The One Ring
The phone will ring once, but the caller will hang up before you have had the chance to answer. If you are interested enough to call back, that’s when the charges will begin. Call back, and you’ll be connected to an international number and that expensive call will be billed to your account.
Sometimes the numbers will look like domestic U.S or Canadian numbers, but they’re either international or are being cloaked. Scammers often use apps for “spoofing”, which means they can disguise their real numbers to make them look like legit local or national phone numbers. Don’t answer and don’t call back!
2. The Robocall for Help
You answer the phone and there is a fake recording of someone in distress or screaming for help. You either stay on the phone, or call back if the caller hangs up. Your callback is either diverted to an international number or the caller proceeds to ask you for your personal information, including credit or bank credentials.
One of the other tricks they use is getting you to say “yes” or answer a series of personal questions so they can record your voice. With that, they can steal your voice to use for unscrupulous activities.
3. The Text Phantom (Smishing)
Instead of a phone call, you’ll receive a text message that will ask you to reply. Again, the number might look like it’s domestic. The message might also be written as if it’s someone you know who needs help, or requesting you to verify personal information.
If you respond, you’ll be charged a hefty fee for texts to international numbers, but these types of texts will often ask you to click on a link. Don’t do it! Your phone could become infected with a virus, or other sensitive information like passwords or financial details could be stolen.
If you’re wondering how to distinguish between a call you trust and a scammer, disregard these area codes when calls roll in:
• 809, 829, 849, 876
• 268, 284
• 664, 649
Your best protection is to avoid taking calls from unfamiliar numbers, and don’t give out your personal information to strangers. Contact your bank directly even if someone claims to be a representative. And completely ignore those “you’ve won” opportunities that pop up from nowhere.
Constant phone calls and harassment from international callers can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission. If there’s a problem with charges to your phone bill, try contacting your service provider first.