Laker Cents: Protect Yourself Against Phone Scams

When your phone rings and the number is blocked or unknown, how likely are you to answer it?

Many young consumers that grew up in the highly mobile world are familiar with handling these unknown calls. They know that giving out important information over the phone is never a good idea. In fact, many people completely ignore all unknown calls. Some of the most vulnerable targets of phone and internet scams are often older consumers who might have never been warned of the dangers.

There are all kinds of phone scams that target individuals’ financial and personal information, with culprits claiming to be from the IRS, FBI, or DHS (Department of Homeland Security). Other times, they pretend to be your home service providers, such as cable or internet, or tech support agents claiming they can fix your devices.

If we had to summarize the importance of keeping your information secure in one sentence, it would be: trusted agencies like the IRS or others will not make unsolicited calls to you asking you for bank account numbers, credit card numbers, or your social security number. Be wary when someone on the other end claims to be from one of these sources.

This year, consumers have reported many phone scams to the Federal Communications Commission. Some reported “IRS representatives” that said there was a warrant out for their arrest, others reported people claiming to be from tech companies such as Apple, asking for login credentials to an account and credit card verifications. Calls like this may sound believable, but aren’t legitimate.

When you answer a suspicious phone call, these are the red flags to look for:

  • is the person calling at a strange time of day? (before 8 AM or after 5 pm?)
  • are they asking for any personal information? (financial information, social security, etc)
  • is the information alarming in any way? (like a so-called “arrest warrant”)
  • does it seem too good to be true? (example: you’ve won a luxury vacation but need to give them your credit card number to claim the prize)
Always remember – your account numbers, credit card numbers, social security number, and other personal information should ALWAYS remain confidential unless you can 100% verify the person you are talking to.

If you are an informed consumer, do your best to spread the word. Talk to your children, relatives, and friends about the dangers of phone scams, especially those who are at the highest risk. If you feel you gave out information to someone who shouldn’t have had it, contact your financial institution as soon as possible to alert them.

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