Don’t assume you’ll never be targeted by phone scammers just because you don’t have a cell phone; they continue to feast on landline users, especially those over 50.

9D“This is the IRS…”

  • Drill this into your head: The IRS never calls to collect back taxes. NEVER.
  • A common ploy is to threaten that the listener will go to prison if they don’t pay up immediately.
  • If you really do owe taxes, the IRS will contact you alright—but via snail mail, not a phone call, text or e-mail.
  • Scam calls may also sound professional with no threats, and may be a pre-recorded woman’s voice.
  • Scammers can make the caller ID show “IRS.”

Charities and Fundraisers

  • A call comes from the fraudster, claiming he represents a charity and wants your donation. The con artist may even say he’s with the local police department.
  • Want to help mankind? Hang up on the caller and give to a reputable foundation or give out homemade sack lunches to the homeless.
  • Go online and search the organization in question to verify they’re legit.
  • If the call has an automated message, hang up immediately.
  • A legitimate organization will not request your Social Security number or personal financial information.

“You’ve won a prize!”

  • No, you haven’t. These are scams; hang up.

Tech support never calls you…

  • You must call them first. So if you get a call from “tech support” asking for personal information, it’s a scam. Geek squads don’t just up and call people.
  • A call about installing an update is a scam.
  • Scammers can make the caller ID show “Microsoft.”

“Hi Grandma, it’s your favorite grandson!”

  • If relatives call asking for money, hang up and call them to verify that said caller is really your relative.

Avoiding Scam Calls

  • Must you answer the phone every time it rings? It’s perfectly legal to ignore a ringing phone.
  • If your phone has caller block, input numbers from suspected scammers. Next time they call, there’ll be barely one ring, then the caller will be blocked.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention.

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