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Doesn’t matter if T-Mobile, AT&T or Verizon, don’t fall for the ring: How to stay safe in a world full of tricks?

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Doesn’t matter if T-Mobile, AT&T or Verizon, don’t fall for the ring: How to stay safe in a world full of tricks?

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In today’s super-connected world, scams are popping up more than ever. Many know to watch out for shady online stuff, but phone fraud is still crazy effective. It plays on our trust in human interaction, which is totally natural. If you’ve been scammed over the phone, you are not alone.

In just one year, a whopping 68.4 million people in the US – about 26% – have reported losing money because of phone scams. And get this, 1 in 3 people in the States (33%) say they have been duped by phone scams at some point, with 20% getting hit more than once.

Scammers are sneaky, too. They are always coming up with new tricks. Just the other day, a T-Mobile user shared how they got a call that looked totally legit, with the caller ID showing a real T-Mobile number (1-800-375-1126), but it turned out to be a scam.

These scammers have all kinds of tricks up their sleeves. They will try online scams, fake bank calls, pretend warranty stuff, and even use AI to sound like real people. They are also super good at making their calls seem like they are from your area, so you might think it is someone you know calling.

So, how do you protect yourself from these money-grabbing crooks? Knowledge is your best weapon. Knowing the signs of a scam is key. Here, we will go over some common phone scams to help you spot them and keep your money and info safe.

The classic “You’ve won!” scam

What’s the deal? You receive a call, text, or email exclaiming, “Congratulations! You’ve won $10,000! Just pay a small fee to claim it!” Well, unexpected messages proclaiming, “You’re a winner!” – despite never entering any contest should alarm you that something is not right.

Spoiler alert: The only prize to be won is a lesson in gullibility.

Stay safe tip: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Real prizes don’t come with a fee.

The ominous “We are the IRS” scam

So, imagine answering the phone, and a stern voice informs you of impending doom unless you settle your tax bill immediately… with gift cards. Last time we checked, the IRS didn’t accept iTunes cards as payment.
The scammers will try to scare you, saying they will call the cops if you don’t pay up right away. Don’t let them freak you out.

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Stay safe tip: Hang up. The IRS contacts people by mail, not by threatening phone calls. Always keep your Social Security number private, especially over the phone. It is important to remember that the legitimate IRS will never solicit wire transfers or gift cards as payment.

Your bank is on the phone scam

When it comes to the “bank call” scam, things are a bit trickier since, unlike the IRS, banks actually do call their customers sometimes. If you get a call asking to confirm transactions, it is okay to answer with a simple yes or no.

But be careful about giving out any other info. Sneaky scammers might even repeat your credit card details back to you, hoping to trick you into sharing your security code next. Some of them play on your fears, saying your card’s been frozen to stop fraud, hoping you will spill your Social Security number.

Stay safe tip: If you find yourself in this situation, take control by calling your bank back to double-check. But here is the key: don’t just redial the number that called you. Instead, flip your card over and dial the customer service number. They will be able to confirm if they were really trying to get in touch with you.

The sinister “Your social security number is suspended” scam

Wonder how this scam works? Apparently, your SSN has been “suspended” due to suspicious activity. You need to confirm your SSN to reactivate it. Yeah, right.

Stay safe tip: Your SSN can no more be suspended than the moon can be switched off. Ignore and report.

The creepy deepfake scam

With the rise of artificial intelligence, there’s been a surge in AI-generated calls or videos that sound or look just like your loved ones, urging you to send money. Not too long ago, one of these scams actually tricked someone into handing over more than $600,000.

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Stay safe tip: Double-check through another method. Take a moment to call or text the person who is supposedly contacting you. It could save you from a whole lot of trouble. Also, trust your gut if something seems fishy. Here are a few things to watch out for:

  • Video quality: Usually, fake videos have pretty poor quality.
  • Loops and cuts: Fake videos often loop back to the start after a while.
  • Video size: If someone is faking a video call, they might resize it to fit their screen.
  • Contacts: Is the person calling you saved in your contacts?
  • Content: Does the caller actually talk in the way the person they impersonate does, or does something seem off? Better ask something only you and that person would know.

The exasperating “Pay your utility bill now” scam

What’s the deal? They claim your utilities are about to be cut off unless you pay immediately. Because everyone knows electricity companies prefer payments in Bitcoin.

Stay safe tip: Utilities companies don’t do shakedowns. Call your provider using the number on their official website if you are concerned.

The dreaded “Your computer has a virus” scam

So, let’s say a pop-up or caller claims your computer is infected. The way to fix it is by allowing them remote access. Sure, and maybe invite them over for dinner, too? ​​If someone says they are from Apple, Microsoft, or another tech company and asks about computer problems, just say no and hang up. Remember, no one’s watching your computer for viruses.Stay safe tip: Don’t ever hand over control of your computer or personal info to random callers or pop-ups that appear out of nowhere. It is a big no-no. And make sure you’ve got a solid antivirus program installed to keep your computer safe. Oh, and here is a golden rule: never click on suspicious links.

The jury duty trick

Watch out for the jury duty trick! Scammers might try to trick you by posing as folks from the jury commission. They will ask for your Social Security number under the guise of checking if you’ve got jury duty coming up. Don’t fall for it.

Stay safe tip: Again, don’t hand out your Social Security number over the phone. Legit jury duty notices always come in the mail, not through some random call asking for your personal deets.

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The questionable calls for contributions scam

Watch out for those calls asking for donations, whether it is for charities, political groups, or lobbyists. If you are interested in helping out, do your own research to make sure the organization is on the up and up.

Stay safe tip: Before you fork over any cash, double-check the organization’s credibility.

Protection power-ups: Equip yourself!

Caller ID and spam blockers: Suit up with apps that filter out known scam numbers. The big carriers have solutions to keep you safe (some are listed below). But if your carrier doesn’t have one, don’t sweat it! You can still grab apps from trusted names. Just be sure to peek at the reviews before downloading because you know scammers like to hang out in the app stores, too.
Two-factor authentication (2FA): It is like a secret handshake for your accounts. Even if scammers get your password, they won’t get in.
Question everything: Adopt a healthy skepticism. If Aunt Edna calls asking for Bitcoin, maybe double-check with her.

Making scamming less fun (for them)

Report, report, report: The FTC, FCC, and your mom (okay, maybe not your mom) want to know about attempted scams. Reporting helps shut these parties down.Educate your circle: Share your knowledge. Scammers hate it when their secrets are out.

Let’s end on a positive note: authorities, phone makers, and carriers are stepping up to fight the good fight. Nowadays, we’ve got:

Also, if you want to avoid ending up like that guy who had his iPhone swiped, here is how to protect your iPhone. Plus, dig into more ways to spot phone scams and keep yourself safe.



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