Career Advice - A Community Blog

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

How to Identify and Avoid Common Telephone Scams and Spam

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Mar 8, 2018 1:46 AM

Even though most people think that phone scams are a thing of the past, they're still a huge problem. Between 9,000 and 12,000 complaints get made to the US Treasury inspector general every week. The amount of phone numbers available has increased dramatically ever since smartphones became widely available in the US. Because of this, the number of phone scammers and telemarketers has also grown. Most people who fall victim to telephone fraud are over 50, so make sure to protect both yourself and your loved ones by learning how to identify and avoid telephone scams and spam. The best way to do this is to learn about the most common phone scams.

The IRS Scam

If you get a call from the IRS telling you how you're receiving your final notice for the money that you owe and how you will be facing jail time if you don't pay it, know that you're getting scammed. Many people comply with these rules because they fear the tax man. Millions of consumers fall victim to the IRS scam every year, so it's important to warn those around you to avoid this scam. Remember that the IRS never use phone calls a primary method of communication, but rather get in contact with taxpayer through the mail.

Tech Support Scam

Microsoft Tech Support impersonators often prey on the elderly to provide them with access to their personal data. The impersonators do this by revealing something is wrong with the computer of the person they're calling. They often ask the person for sharing control in order to fix it, which is when they manage to steal personal data. Microsoft recommends never buying services or software when you're talking to a tech support rep. You should also never reveal any financial information when speaking with someone who claims to be from tech support.

Fake Charities

You may be the target of a telephone scam if you get a call from someone asking for a contribution to a fundraiser campaign for a local organization. However, if you want to check if they really represent a local organization, you can simply hang up and call the official line of the organization to see if what they're saying is true. Another good idea to avoid charity scams would be to request written material about the charity before you commit to donating. Nevertheless, you should keep in mind that even written material can be faked.

Sweepstake Prize Scam

If you get a call telling you that you've won something and that you're required to give your personal and credit card information, then you're getting scammed. If you really think that there's a chance you've won something, simply ask for a confirmation to be sent to your house.

Debt Collection Calls

One of the most popular telephone scams is when scammers pose as a third party collection agency and call to collect on debts you don't even owe. In order to prove the legitimacy of this call, you can ask for a debt verification letter to be sent to your home.

Start Minimizing Incoming Scam Calls

In order to start minimizing the amount of scam or spam calls you get, you will need to monitor your incoming calls. If you see an unknown number, then don't answer it. Keep in mind that if someone important is trying to get in contact with you, they will either leave a voicemail or try contacting you another way.

If you're interested in who is calling you then you can look up the phone number after your phone stops ringing. Websites like CheckThem allow you to easily see who called you through their reverse phone lookup service.

You should never feel obligated to call someone back if you don't recognize the number, especially if someone hangs up after the first ring, since you may fall victim to a scam designed to bill people for international calls.


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