How to Protect Yourself from Scam Phone Numbers
During the past year, more than 1,000,000 Americans received phone calls from the IRS letting them know they owe the federal agency money. Naturally, many of those one million Americans discovered that the calls were scam phone calls, but the realization came too late; every year, millions of Americans fall victim to scam phone numbers that call them up and ask for their personal information, including bank info and credit card details.
These types of scams add up to billions of dollars each year and often lead to identity fraud that is very difficult to deal with. To avoid joining the statistics, here is what you need to know about scam phone calls and how to avoid them.
5 Signs of Phone Scams: How to Identify Scam Phone Numbers
Phone scams are a multibillion-dollar business, and the people who operate it are constantly on the lookout for new victims. To avoid such calls and prevent yourself from getting scammed, here are the scam phone number warning signs that you need to know:
1. "IRS" and other law enforcement agency phone calls
One of the most successful phone scams is the IRS call or a call from another government agency; the people who run such scams rely on fear to get their victims to provide personal information, such as SSN or credit card information to settle a supposed debt. To avoid trouble with law enforcement agencies, many people provide their personal information to scammers only to discover that they were duped. It is important for you to know that the IRS nor other government agencies make initial contact via the phone.
They first send a letter to your home and initiate contact through such correspondence. So, if someone calls you and tells you that you are in trouble with the IRS or other government agencies, do not provide your personal information – these are likely scammers who are calling you. If you want to make sure that you are indeed in no debt, financial or otherwise, call the official contact number of the agency that supposedly called you and ask whether they are the ones who called you. In most cases, you will discover that this is not the case.
2. Asking for your personal information
Aside from the IRS and other agencies, phone scammers also use other tactics to get people to provide their personal information. Common scams include telling people they have won a prize, that a family member is trying to reach out to them, that a charity is in dire need of donations, and a myriad of other reasons. You must never provide your personal information to people or agencies that you do not know, especially ones that ask you to provide your bank/SNN/credit information.
3. Threat of lawsuit/legal actions
Intimidation is another telltale sign of phone scams that you should be on the lookout for. Of someone calls you and threatens with:
- Legal action
- Freezing your account
- Taking possession of your property
Or any other threat, they are likely scammers who are trying to get you to pay for something that did not happen. Legal actions do not begin over the phone, and you should hang up or at the very least do your research to find out if there is indeed legal action against you.4. Unknown/strange area codes
If you notice someone calling you from a strange or unknown area code, there is a great chance that they are scammers. The following are likely area codes used by scammers, and you should be suspicious when you get phone calls from such numbers:
809, 829, 849
You can Google the phone number that called you to find out its origin or wait for a voicemail and call back the number if you think that it might be legitimate. The Federal Trade Commission advises to never call back the numbers with the area codes listed here, so be prefer other methods of discovering who is calling you.
No matter how nice the robot voice is on the other side, you should avoid Robocalls as much as you can. Generally speaking, robocalls are illegal, unless you gave your written consent to receive such phone calls (mainly sales calls). So, if you receive a robocall from a company/service provided that is trying to sell you a product/service that you did not sign up for, it is illegal, it could be a scam, and you should hang up.
Who is Calling You?
If you have any suspicion that someone who is calling might be a scammer, you should hang up the phone or not answer it at all. To find out the identity behind mystery phone numbers, you can use a caller ID app, like TrueCaller, that lets you know who is calling you and whether the phone number is a scam/spam caller.
You can also use an advanced reverse phone lookup service that provides information about callers, including the following details:
- Name of caller
- Email address
- Phone carrier
- Additional phone numbers
- Caller's history
With the help of a reverse phone search directory, you can find out exactly who called you without having to pick up the phone. For the fastest results, you can use ProPeopleSearche's phone number search, and get credible public records information from a reliable source.
With millions of Americans duped by scam callers every year, you must be careful about who you answer to and what information you provide over the phone. Keep in mind the most common phone scams today, and find out who is calling you and why. It could save you time, money, and anguish.