Protecting against Phone Scams

Every year, people report fraud, identity theft and bad business practices to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and law enforcement partners. According to FTC data, more than 2.8 million people reported fraud in 2021, and 1 in 4 said they also lost money. The median loss in scams that start with a call is $1,200, higher than any other contact method.

“Phone scams come in many forms, but they often
make similar promises or threats. Trust your gut if
something seems off or too good to be true.“

Considering this data, it is likely that you have or will be on the receiving end of a phone scam.
Technology has made it even easier, as scammers can leverage robocalls or spoofing tools to change phone numbers. This article highlights the warning signs of phone scams and tips to protect yourself from them.

Warning Signs

Recognizing the typical red flags of a scam could help you avoid falling for one. Here are some general indications that a call or text is a scam:

  • They pretend to be from a familiar organization.
  • They say there’s a problem or a prize.
  • They pressure you to act immediately.
  • They tell you to pay in a specific way.

Consumer Tips

To prevent unwanted robocalls and phony texts and potentially avoid phone scams, the FTC recommends the following tips:

  • Block unwanted calls and texts through your phone company or mobile apps.
  • Register your number on the Do Not Call Registry.
  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers and hang up immediately if you answer a robocall.
  • Never provide your personal or financial information in response to a request you didn’t expect over the phone.
  • Resist the pressure to act immediately based on a call or text; a legitimate business will provide you ample time to decide or provide payment.
  • Don’t click on any links in texts, even if the message is from a company you usually do business with and it seems legitimate.
  • Talk to someone you trust after receiving a suspicious call or text; doing so could help you realize it’s a scam.

If you spot a scam or have given money to a scammer, you can report it to the FTC by filing a consumer complaint online or calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382- 4357).

Download a handy infographic about avoiding phone scams here.