Scams and Fraud

12/13/2023 | By Annie Tobey

Don’t let a fraudster steal your hard-earned money! Scammers are using new technologies to make scams and fraud on phones – both calls and texts – harder to detect. Here are some guidelines for keeping your purse strings tightly closed. They all come down to one admonition: be suspicious!

1. Don’t trust incoming calls.

If your bank calls alerting you to a problem with your account, Medicare or the IRS calls asking for personal and financial information, or Amazon claims the delivery driver needs to talk to you, be suspicious. If a caller says you’ve won a prize, be suspicious.

2. Don’t trust caller ID.

Scammers have learned to “spoof” a phone number and the caller id name – businesses and individuals – so the call is not always from who it says it is.

3. Don’t trust a voice.

Artificial intelligence (AI) enables fraudsters to mimic a person’s voice, even your trusted family members, and to scrape information on that person – their job, names of friends and children, and more. If you’re having a pleasant chat, go for it. But if suddenly your grandson is pleading for money – or, says the caller, something bad will happen – you need to verify the source.

4. Don’t offer any personal information.

This includes names, passwords, and account numbers – these can be used to steal from you or your loved ones.

For incoming calls like those above, ask what the call is in regard to, then hang up, find more information elsewhere (such as your bank’s website or your grandson’s parents), and call to confirm.

A worried woman on a phone - she knows to be suspicious of a fraud attempt. Image by Ammentorp

5. Don’t be pressured into responding.

Scammers know that a person is easier to manipulate when they’re under stress.

6. Don’t worry about being polite.

A scammer will feign offense if you threaten to hang up or you express your doubts. Hanging up is a lot less impolite than what they’re trying to do to you!

7. Be suspicious of incoming texts from unknown numbers.

Don’t respond! If you do, you have engaged the scammer and the situation could spiral – possibly out of control. If you’re concerned there’s really a problem, find a trusted number and call.

8. Don’t judge a call or text based on its professional appeal.

While we could previously spot a scam from poor grammar or spelling, technologies like AI and spell check have removed that sure-fire sign.

Person scanning a QR code in a coffee shop. Photo by  Koonsiri Boonnak

9. Only use QR codes from trusted sources.

Using a fake QR code, scammers are able to steal personal information, direct you to a phishing website, or take your money. Scan in familiar and trustworthy places, like your neighborhood restaurant menu, but not on posters or fuel pumps in unsecure environments.

For all such scenarios, be suspicious!

If you suspect fraud, contact these public resources:

Annie Tobey