Ring… Ring… How to Protect Your Money from Phone Scams
Last year alone, 27 million Americans lost $7.4 billion in phone scams.1 According to a study by Truecaller (a mobile communication application provider), they revealed a 53 percent increase in scams since 2014. The victims surprisingly spread across generations. In fact, Millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 are the most vulnerable and are being attacked on their mobile phones, with the study showing that scams are no longer limited to just landlines. Scammers are getting more sophisticated, aggressive and relentless. However, by paying attention to the red flags, you can protect your financial assets from a seemingly real phone scam. Here are a few important ways to protect yourself:
Know the IRS doesn’t make phone calls. Nearly a quarter of all scams in 2015 were related to the largest and fasted growing “Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scam,” in which someone claiming to be with the IRS calls to threaten your arrest for non-payment of taxes.2 According to the IRS, they do not typically alert taxpayers of unpaid taxes by phone—usually it is through mail correspondence.
Practice stranger danger. The lessons you learned about not talking to strangers also apply to phone scammers. Don’t trust strangers. We recommend hanging up if anything seems off.
Be aware of payment requirements. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has enforced new rules that ban telephone solicitors from collecting certain types of payments commonly used by scammers:
- Wire transfers, such as Western Union and MoneyGram
- Cash reload cards, such as Money-Pak, Vanilla Reload and Reloadit
- Remotely created electronic checks allowing one to use another person’s bank account to withdraw money. Essentially, they cannot ask you for the numbers at the bottom of a check to make a payment.
Invest in a paper shredder. Protect yourself and your personal information from getting into the wrong hands by investing in a paper shredder. Identity theft is a big business so be sure to monitor your bank and credit card statements regularly.
Knowing the red flags of a telemarketing scam could save you from great potential loss. To learn more about tips to protect yourself from phone scams, or to file a complaint, visit the Federal Trade Commission site.