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Over-the-Phone Scams

Beware of "solicitation" calls

Scams to steal personal or financial information over the phone are called vishing. During a vishing attack hackers will use caller ID spoofing to conceal the source of the original phone call. The vishing scams may use either a  person or a pre-recorded message to solicit information. The most common vishing scams are:

  • Compromised bank or credit account where a consumer is informed that hat his or her credit cards or Debit/ATM card has been flagged for fraudulent activity and needs to be unblocked or that there is an issue with the account or a recent payment. You may be asked for your login credentials to fix the problem or ask to make a new payment. Instead of providing this information, hang up and call your financial institution and their publicly available number.
  • Unsolicited loan or investment offers can try to lure you into a quick profit scheme by either promising you can earn millions of dollars on one small investment or pay off your debt with one quick fix. They will urgently ask you to act now and pay a small fee. 
  • Medicare scam will have thieves posing as Medicare representatives and try to solicit financial information from the victims such as their Medicare number or bank account details. 
  • Social Security scam involves crooks claim to be from the Social Security Administration and threaten to suspend or cancel the victim's Social Security number.
  • IRS tax scam typically includes a pre-recorded message telling you there is something wrong with your tax return. You may be asked to call the number back or a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Please click here to see what the IRS officials are allowed or not allowed to do. 
  • Fake emergency scam will have someone call you pretending they are a family or close family friend and need money to get out of trouble. 

How to Protect Yourself

  • Join the free National Do Not Call registry to stop unwanted sales calls
  • Don't answer unfamiliar numbers and let them go to voicemail instead
  • Don't press buttons or respond to prompts if you get an automated message
  • Be vary of phone calls asking for your personal or financial information
  • Call them back. If someone is selling you something or asking for information, tell them you will call them back. Verify the company is legitimate by calling them back using a telephone number from a bill, statement, or other trustworthy source, and not the number they provided during the call.
  • Only download apps from reputable sources like App Store, Google Play and Galaxy Store. 
  • If your phone has been lost or stolen, take steps to protect your personal information and inform your phone carrier so that they can disconnect your service. 
  • It's a good idea to install or enable deactivation methods on your phone in case it is lost or stolen. Here is a list of the most-used services:

    - Apple “Find My - Activation Lock
    - Verizon Android “Find My Device - Remotely Lock
    - Samsung “Find My Mobile
    - T-Mobile Android and iOS “Lookout Mobile Security
    - Windows 10 “Find My Device

If You Become a Victim

  • Report all vishing calls to the Federal Trade Commission by visiting the agency's website at www.ftc.gov or calling 888.382.1222. The FTC will ask for the number and name that appeared on your caller ID, as well as the time of day and the information discussed or heard in a recorded message.
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