Call frauds are alarmingly widespread, and each year, ordinary citizens lose billions of dollars to them. In 2022, phone calls were the second most common method of communication used by criminals to reach victims, accounting for one in five of all reported scams.
So, chances are you will encounter a deceptive call, too, if you have not already. Knowing how to tackle it effectively is key to ensuring your personal safety.
What Type of Phone Scams Can You Encounter?
Before we discuss how best to deal with phone fraud, let’s take a moment to understand the most prevalent techniques deployed to trick victims.
These are automated calls, often executed to phish for personal information or record responses, which fraudsters could later use as consent for deceptive activities.
Robocalls are fairly inexpensive and easy to launch by the millions, making them popular among racketeers.
Salespeople can scam you, too, if you are not careful. They can provide misleading information to sign you up for subscriptions you don’t really need or sell fake or inferior-quality products at higher prices.
Con artists can impersonate a variety of well-known organizations, from the IRS and banks to popular retailers and tech support teams. They can also pretend to represent charitable organizations and seek donations or mimic your health insurance provider to steal your personal information. Imposters can even imitate your loved ones.
It is important to note that many of the above call scams are designed to steal money. However, some will attempt to solicit personal data, such as your social security number, tax ID, bank details, and healthcare insurance information. These could subject you to numerous financial frauds when compromised.
Effective Techniques to Tackle Phone Scams
So, what should you do when you answer a shady call? Should you hang up or keep talking to find out more? Here is what we recommend for dealing with call scams efficiently and effectively.
1. Learn to identify phone fraud
Before you can decide whether to hang up or continue to talk, you need to learn how to detect scams. Common warning signs include:
- Automated prompts
Of course, not all automated calls are fraud. Some, such as those used by healthcare providers to remind you of appointments, can add significant value. However, recorded messages that ask you for personal information or request yes/no responses are best avoided.
- Pressure tactics
Creating a false sense of urgency is another sign of fraud. Most call scammers use it to prevent victims from taking the time to evaluate the information at hand.
- Emotional manipulation
When emotions run high, you are more likely to act in haste and make mistakes. This is why con artists frequently use strategies to exploit fear, greed, and other powerful emotions to trick people into their schemes.
- Requests for personally identifiable information (PII)
For example, racketeers could represent your bank and ask for your account information or mimic tech support staff to get your computer’s login credentials.
2. Hang up on suspicious calls
If you notice any telltale signs of a scam call, don’t hesitate to hang up.
By continuing to converse or engage with shady individuals, you are unwittingly making yourself more vulnerable to fraud. So, ending the conversation as soon as you notice suspicious behavior is critical.
Be especially mindful of automated calls. Never provide voice responses or press buttons on your phone to follow their instructions or prompts.
3. Verify unknown callers
There will be moments when it is difficult for you to tell apart a scammer from a genuine caller, particularly when they claim to represent a reputed organization or an individual you know.
The best response in such situations is to be polite. Take down their names and contact information, inform them you need some time to get back, and hang up.
Then, call them using a number you have already saved on your contact list to reconfirm the original call and request. If you don’t have a direct number, check their website or social media profiles for a general phone number.
4. Avoid emotional decisions
Sometimes, you may receive a threatening call from the IRS demanding an overdue tax payment. Or, you could be contacted by a charity following a natural disaster seeking urgent donations.
Keeping your emotions in check and taking your time to evaluate the situation is crucial in such moments. It will allow you to make informed decisions and prevent costly mistakes.
Besides, remember that legitimate organizations will always give you ample time to determine what action to take next. Undue pressure from unexpected callers is likely a sign of a scam.
5. Ignore calls from unfamiliar numbers
An important preventative measure to minimize fraudulent threats is to ignore incoming calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
Let them ring and go to voicemail. Before you return them, use PhoneHistory, a reverse phone number lookup, to identify who has called.
Another essential step is installing a caller ID app. These mobile applications rely on user-generated databases to scan incoming calls and flag deceptive callers. Some apps can even block them automatically.
6. Protect your data
Keeping your personal and identifiable data safe and secure is also critical.
Without a justifiable reason, never give away personal information to callers, even when you think you know them.
Preventing criminals from getting hold of your personal phone number is equally important. Avoid sharing it unnecessarily with organizations, especially when signing up for online accounts, loyalty programs, memberships, newsletters, and free giveaways.
Call frauds are diverse in nature and can be surprisingly sophisticated, thanks to modern technology. Robocalls, shady telemarketers, and imposters can target you for numerous deceptive schemes, robbing you of money and personal data. So, knowing how to deal with phone scammers effectively is crucial for mitigating their threats.
Learn the warning signs of call fraud so you can detect them swiftly and hang up the phone. In general, verify unknown callers before accommodating any requests and avoid emotional decisions despite pressure tactics. Importantly, ignore calls from unfamiliar numbers and keep your personal data secure.