Did you know that according to Fraud.org that 40% of scams originate with a phone call and 30% with an email? Sixty percent of scams involve a caller impersonating a representative from a government agency or financial institution. Scam artists often try to present themselves as authority figures that can make your life somehow better or easier, and may become more pushy and aggressive when you resist.
- Credit Card Interest Rate Reduction Scams: The caller promises interest rate reductions, but first the victim needs to pay the caller an upfront fee and disclose personal information to complete the transaction. They urge that the lower interest rates are available for only a limited time and that you need to act now. Some even promise money-back guarantees. The FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule prohibits companies that sell relief services from charging a fee before they settle or reduce your debt. The Federal Trade Commission also warns never to give out your credit card information to callers. The “FTC investigators found that people who pay for these services don’t get the touted interest rate reductions, don’t save the promised amounts, don’t pay off their credit card debt three to five times faster, and struggle to get refunds.” In fact, you can call your credit card company yourself for free and ask for a rate reduction. If the credit card company won’t budge shop for a new card or apply for a bill consolidation loan from your bank or credit union or seek the help of a nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency. If you think you’ve experienced a credit card interest rate reduction scam phone call, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
- Home Security Systems: The caller offers a free home security system and tries to frighten the victim into action by mentioning a rash of local burglaries. Sometimes they may use the name of a well-known security company and try to manipulate you into giving them either access to your personal information or even your home. Or the call is sometimes from an unscrupulous company trying to lure you into a contract with expensive long-term monitoring costs or fees. Never take a cold-caller at face value, stay skeptical. If you are interested in a new security system don’t give out information over the phone. Ask for their name, company name, and phone number. Check the company out online, then call and ask if the person is really an employee. This same warning applies to someone visiting your home claiming to represent a security system company, do not let them in your home.
- Spam Text Messages: The text message will use promises of prizes or free gifts, or product offers, like cheap mortgages to get you to click on a link, call a certain number or go to a certain website to win a prize. When you go to claim the prize you will need to give up personal information. Clicking on a link from the message can install malware on your phone that will with your knowledge collect your personal info from your phone. Going to the website on your computer can install the malware on your computer and accomplish the same thing. Once the scammer has your information it can be sold to identity thieves. Forward all spam text messages to 7726 (SPAM) to report them.
- Free Cruises: This scam involves calls or texts offering a free cruise. The victim is then pressured into disclosing credit card information to pay for the taxes and fees.
- Microsoft Tech Support: The caller claims to be calling from Microsoft’s tech support and says that your computer is infected with a virus. The scammer requests remote access to your computer to fix the problem and then will install malware to steal your information. The caller will then charge you for their service.