How to Spot Phone Scams

Americans lost $29.8 billion between 2020 and 2021 from phone scams. These threats are highly manipulative and make it impossible to recover your money. While these people can trick you into giving them your money, they cannot force you. But how do you know if someone is trying to scam you? Use this helpful guide the next time an unknown number calls you.

Five Warning Signs of a Phone Scam

The ruse may change, but the purpose remains the same–phone scammers want your money, and they are willing to say anything to get it. Since these scammers can make verbal threats, it’s essential you know what to expect from them and how you can report phone scams. 

Here are five straightforward ways to know when to hang up on a scammer.

1. Prizes Don’t Exist

When we think of prizes, we think of an award or gift we receive after accomplishing something, and one of the most common phone scams is a promise of an award after payment. This request is a warning sign–no one pays for a real prize.

2. No One Can Arrest You

Fear-mongering is a scammer’s best friend. To get you to do what they want, a phone scammer will lie to you, threaten you, and promise your arrest. However, the police can’t arrest you based on a phone call like this.

3. You Have Time to Think

Legitimate businesses will never pressure you to decide on the spot. Even if the calling company is the IRS or your credit card company, they will never request a final decision over the phone. However, spam calls pressure you to decide before you take the time to think about it.

4. Never Pay with Cash or a Gift Card

Scammers know that a debit or credit card is traceable and that you can seek legitimate refunds for money lost. Scammers will request you to pay in cash, wire transfer, or with a gift card to avoid getting caught and stay anonymous. They want you to pay this way because there isn’t a way to recoup your lost money, and it keeps them free from liability and tracking.

5. Government Agencies Don’t Use Phone Calls to Confirm Sensitive Information

One of the most common ruses is the government agency front. If you receive a call from a specific agency asking about your sensitive information, hang up the phone immediately. 

A federal agency will never ask about your social security number, bank account numbers, or other private information over the phone.

Conclusion

As technology develops and changes over time, so do the ploys for taking people’s money. When dealing with phone scammers, it’s always best not to answer a call from a number you don’t recognize. However, that is not always possible to avoid unwanted calls, so make sure you know how to recognize phone scams and use caller id. When talking on the phone with a suspected phone scam, listen for clues about prizes, arrests, government entities seeking private information, and payment methods. The moment you notice one of these warning signs, hang up the phone and report them.