Phone scams are a common way to cheat you out of money and personal information.
You get a call from a seemingly trusted company or organization misrepresented by the scammer. They lure you into a conversation that often leads to financial discussions and your commitment to some service or product. Then it happens.
Truth is, phone scams are becoming more convincing all the time. An increasing problem is with robocalls – recorded messages that try to sell you something. The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips to protect yourself:
• Hang up the phone. Do not press 1 to speak to a live operator or any other key to take your number off the call list.
• Consider asking your phone company if they charge for blocking scam phone numbers. Remember that telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change.
• If you get a phone call from an unknown person who tries to sell you something that you didn’t plan to buy, do not do it. Hang up if they pressure you to provide personal information like a credit card or Social Security number.
• Get all the information in writing – not on the phone – before considering any response to a phone offer.
• Don’t buy anything from a phone call to get a “free gift” or to qualify for a financial benefit.
• Take your time to check out charities or organizations before donating money.
• Don’t send cash by messenger, overnight mail, or money transfer. If you use cash or a money transfer — rather than a credit card — you may lose your right to dispute fraudulent charges.
• Don’t agree to any offer that requires you to pay a “registration” or “shipping” fee.
• If contacted by someone identifying himself or herself as law enforcement, remember that police will not ask for your social security number and attempt to resolve a criminal matter by asking for money.
• Report any caller who is rude or abusive, even if you already sent them money. They'll want more. Call 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit ftc.gov/complaint.
• Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.