Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

How to Identify and Avoid the Most Common Telephone Scams

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Nov 7, 2017 4:43 AM

Thousands of people lose money through telephone scams every year. In some cases, victims have lost entire life savings. It is a sad reality indeed. You could be the next person the scammers are planning to target. Some common telephone scams you and your loved ones can identify and avoid are:

Fake Fundraisers and Charities

Some criminals may try to get you to give to some charity or some helpful organization's. They might pretend to call from a well-known local charity. Who does not want to be kind and supportive to a local nonprofit? After you send them the funds, they will keep them. Call the local organization they purport to work with on their official line.

Visit the organization's official website. Search the caller's number and any other information they shared. You may notice something that does not add up. If you decide to contribute, use a method that documents the transaction. Use your credit card or check. Desist from sharing personal information such as your social security number.

Fake IRS Calls

Many people fear IRS. Smart fraudsters will try to use fear to manipulate you. You may get a call from "IRS" reminding you to report your taxes. Or they may call and say, "This is the final notice to report your taxes." Others may threaten you with jail time. Anyone trying to reach you through email, social media, or text messages is just not the tax man. What do you do now? Do not panic. Do not send them money. Just call IRS on this number: 1-800-829-1040. Have them confirm if you owe any taxes.

Tech Support Scams

Some criminals will call you pretending to be from the technical support department of a particular company. They may want to fix your computer. Or they may offer to install an update. Such callers are scammers. In all these situations, promise to call them back. Get your company's official support line. Call them and verify everything. Most importantly, never buy software or a service from such callers. Never share your computer's control with them.

Bank Alerts

You may get a call notifying you that the bank has suspended your card. A bank is a secure place, do not worry, right? The caller could be a criminal. All they want is your financial details. Since you want to prove you are the account holder, you may freely share your information. You will hand over your account details, SSN, address, phone number, date of birth, and so on. The fraudster may use such information to open a bank account. And they can ruin your credit records. To avoid this, always drive down to your local branch and confirm the caller's information.

Make Money From Home Calls

Scammers will call you and offer you a "job" that you can do from home. Who would not want to work from home and make tons of money? All they want from you is a little effort. It is so exciting that you never ask yourself how they got your number. Or how they knew you were between jobs. In the end, they will want you to pay some funds to secure the "position." Once you make the payment, the good stranger will just disappear.

When you receive a call from a number you do not recognize, ignore it. You may also want to use services such as The service is a real-time directory that helps you look up caller IDs. It works regardless of whether the person used a cell phone or a landline to contact you. Visit the website and type the caller's number on the active tab just above the reverse search tab.

You will get names, addresses, email, Zip code, and so on. You can forward such information to the Federal Trade Commission. To minimize unsolicited calls, register your phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry. The move will stop most unwanted calls.

Scammers succeed in some of their schemes. If it were not so, they would not be in business. Their plans succeed because some people are not aware of their tricks. If a deal from a cold- caller sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Being aware of the common techniques scammers use can keep you and your family safe.

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