smartconsumer: Preventing Telephone Fraud - Know

Preventing Telephone Fraud

{What to Know} {What to Do}

How does telephone fraud work?

In a telephone scam, a dishonest person lies and tricks you into sending money to them. They will probably tell you to wire the money or send cash. They may pressure you to act right away.

They might say:

  • You just won a prize, but you have to pay money to get the prize

  • You won the lottery, but you have to pay taxes first

  • A friend or relative is in trouble and needs your help

  • You have been selected to be part of a wonderful investment and need to send us money before it is too late

  • I am calling from your electric company and we will shut off your power in two days if you do not pay us money right away

These are tricks. If you send money, the scammer will keep it. You will not get your money back.

How do I spot a telephone scam?

Someone you do not know calls and asks you to send them money or give them your credit card number. This is probably a scam.

Scammers are clever. They try to make things look real. Which of these choices looks like a scam?

  • Your sister calls and asks for money. She does this every month and every time you see her in person.

  • You get a call from your grandson. He says he's in trouble in Canada and needs your help. He asks you to wire money. He asks you not to tell his parents.

The second choice is a scam. There have been a lot of complaints about this scam. The scammer will pretend to be a family member or a friend. They may have hacked into the computer of the person they are pretending to be. They use the person's contact list to call or email everyone the person knows to ask for money.

    Video from the Federal Trade Commission                   Caption page

What if a story sounds true?

Scammers are very good at fooling people. Scammers also want to rush you. They want your money before you have time to think.

Before you do anything, stop and check.

  • The person who needs money for an emergency? Call that person. Call another family member. Find out if anything happened.

  • The inheritance or prize? You do not have to pay for a prize. Ever. Did they say you have an inheritance? Talk to someone you trust. What does that person think?  

  • The company that is threatening to turn off your power? Did you pay your bills? Did you get an overdue notice in the mail? Hang up the phone and call the company directly. Ask if they called you. Ask if you missed a payment.

Content Last Modified on 2/28/2013 1:43:47 PM