Phone scams are common and, sadly, older people are often the target of those scams. Scam artists prey on the elderly and take advantage of the fact that many are still very unfamiliar with the newest technology and the common tricks that can be used to scam them.
Accordingly, this article will provide information on phone scams and how to avoid them. If you have questions or know someone who may need an elder abuse lawyer in Stuart, Fl, we can help.
What is a Phone Scam?
A phone scam is a type of fraud where someone tries to acquire money and/or personal information from someone illegally over the phone. These calls can come from real people, but sometimes they come from robot calls and text messages as well.
What Are Some of the More Common Phone Scams?
In order to avoid being a victim, it’s important to know what some of the most common scams are and how to spot them:
1. Pretending to Be an Employee from Your Bank
One type of phone scam occurs when someone calls a senior citizen and claims to be an employee from their bank. The scammer usually has just enough information to convince the person that they do, in fact, work for their bank.
The next step is to tell the senior citizen that their bank account has been compromised. They say that an employee of the bank will be over shortly to pick up the debit and credit cards from the compromised account and will return the cards once a new, safe account has been opened.
Once the cards are picked up, the scammer either withdraws money from an ATM if they can secure the PIN number or they make purchases using the credit card.
2. Threatening Calls From “The IRS”
Threatening calls from the IRS are widespread, particularly during tax season. Someone calls and pretends to be an employee of the IRS. They usually say that you owe money, and if you don’t pay immediately, you will be sued and/or arrested.
These phone calls can seem very legitimate. The scammer often provides a badge number and information that sounds very official. Don’t be fooled, however. The IRS will never contact you over the phone. Typically, the IRS will send you information through the U.S. Mail – not by phone, not by email (unless you already consented), and not by text.
3. Sick or Injured Family Member
Scammers often call elderly people and tell them that one of their family members is sick or injured, or has been arrested. They might ask for bail money to help get them out of jail or money for a family member’s medical bills. The scammer will ask for payment to be made immediately over the phone.
4. Lottery Calls
Many phone scams start by telling you that you’ve won the lottery. Before you can collect your money, the scammers will often say that you have to pay taxes or certain fees in order to collect your winnings.
Then, they ask you for your credit card or bank account information to make these payments before you receive your “prize.”
How to Avoid Phone Scams
The first thing you need to do to avoid a phone scam is to be aware of them. Yet, there are some other steps you can take to try to avoid these phone calls, as well:
1. Put your phone number on the FTC’s national do not call registry. While this won’t stop scammers from contacting you, it will prevent legitimate telemarketers from reaching out to you. This means that if you get a phone call about someone selling something or asking for money, you will know that it’s most likely not legitimate.
2. Hang up the phone if it’s from a recording and not a real person
3. If you aren’t sure if it’s a scam, ask questions. Most legitimate telemarketers will happily answer your questions. The scammers will often get annoyed and angry when you question them, so if this happens, it might be a sign that you want to hang up the phone.
4. Don’t answer phone calls from unknown numbers. If it’s an important phone call and you don’t answer, they will leave a message.
5. Many smartphones now have a feature that can even alert you to a suspicious phone call. Make sure that feature is turned on.
6. Never provide personal information over the phone to anyone unless you’re absolutely certain who they are. Many scammers will ask for your bank account number, social security number, or credit card number. Never provide this information to someone who calls you and asks for it. Do your research first.
7. Never use the word “yes” unless you know that the call is legitimate. A lot of phone scammers will record the call and you saying yes, and then use that phrase to make it seem like you agreed to something you had no intention of agreeing to, using your words for fraudulent activity. Many scammers will start by asking, “can you hear me?” in the hopes that you will reply yes. If you get a call and it starts that way, hang up immediately.
8. Always report suspected phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission. You can do this online or by calling 877-382-4357.
At Crary Buchanan, We Can Help
If you find yourself the victim of one of these types of phone calls, just hang up the phone immediately. There’s no point in trying to reason with the person on the other end of the call. If you have an older parent or family member, make sure you talk to them about the types of phone scams that are common so they know what to avoid. If they’ve been the victim of one of these scams and need an elder abuse lawyer in Stuart, Fl, we can help.
Crary Buchanan is a general practice law firm dedicated to providing quality legal services in the state of Florida. Our lawyers have significant legal experience in practically every major area of the law, and many of our associates are Board Certified by the Florida Bar in their areas of expertise. That breadth of legal experience, coupled with years of history in our community, means Crary Buchanan attorneys are miles above the rest.
If you have more questions or want a dedicated elder abuse lawyer in the Stuart, FL area to help you, call 772-287-2600 or schedule a free consultation online with our easy-to-use contact form. We have successfully protected hundreds of people from phone scammers and identity theft. You can always depend on Crary Buchanan for our honesty, hard work, experience, and trust. Call today.
The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not decide whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.