22 Jan Phone Scams Are on the Rise: One to Watch For
Phone Scams Are on the Rise- This is What to Watch Out For
In early December, a 21-year-old college student, we’ll call him “James,” thought he got a call from his cousin.
“I need your help, man. It’s your cousin,” the voice said.
James immediately got nervous. “John? What’s up? What do you need?”
“Hi, yes this is John,” the voice said. “I have a bit of an emergency. I need you to Western Union me $500 for bail money. I’m at the police station.”
Long story short, “John” was never in trouble and he didn’t need bail money. In fact, the “real John” was thousands of miles away at a ski resort with his family. It didn’t take long for James to figure out he’d joined the millions of Americans who’ve fallen victims to phone scams.
Below are just some of the scams that were popular in 2019.
Your Social Security Number Has Been Suspended
If you get a call from an automated system saying your social security number has been suspended for “suspicious activity,” hang up. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. The Social Security Administration doesn’t suspend SS#s, nor will they call you to ask you to provide them with sensitive, personal information.
You Owe the IRS Money And You Have a Warrant
In this scam, the caller uses strong-arm scare tactics to get you to part with your hard-earned cash. It often starts with an automated message that says you owe $X in back taxes, and that because you haven’t paid, you have a warrant out for your arrest. If you want to clear the warrant, press “9” to be connected to an operator. If you do connect to a live person, that person yells, screams, threatens and in some cases, may curse at you in hopes of scaring you to wiring them money. (Sometimes, they’ll ask you to purchase pre-paid Green Dot gift cards and provide them with the numbers that are on the back.)
The IRS warns people that if you do owe back taxes, you won’t be contacted by phone. You’ll be notified by mail. Second, it’s worth noting congress banned debtors’ prisons in 1833. If you owe the IRS money, they can garnish your paycheck, your taxes or put a lien on your home.
Americans have lost millions of dollars to phone scams in the past several years alone- and unfortunately, once that money is gone, it’s nearly impossible to recover.
Have you been targeted recently by a phone scam? What did the caller say? We’d love to get your feedback in the comments.