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Phone scams are one of the most popular ways crooks make money off unsuspecting victims. Thankfully, there are lists of scammer phone numbers that you can use to stay safe and avoid being taken.
A scam call is when a criminal calls a total stranger and tries to trick them into giving up personal details used for identity theft, or payment information. Some of these crooks impersonate government agents from the IRS or Social Security Administration. Some notify the victim they have won a prize and only have to pay a small fee to get it. Others use threats of lawsuits and jail to trick people into giving up information or credit card details.
There are dozens of these scams circulating right now, and they typically originate from other countries that target English speaking individuals. Although the methods and content may differ, the goal is always the same, to make money off someone through fraud.
Phone scams work because the tricksters prey on seniors and others who are more likely to trust and quick to pay to get out of trouble or help out. Scammers have gotten very sophisticated, and as the public catches on, they change their ways. They used to use 900 numbers to scam victims, but now they use other area codes and spoof calls from anywhere.
Some of the most common phone scams you should be aware of right now are:
You can perform a Google search to look up scammer numbers online but be careful of the websites you visit. Some could be a lure for more victims trying to protect themselves. You can consult the FTC; they have a master list of scammer phone numbers. The list below is a partial list of known scammer phone numbers:
If you get a call with an area code from 809, hang up. This call is coming from the Caribbean, and it’s most likely a scam call. Another one to be on the lookout for is 473, which originates in Grenada. If the caller leaves you a message urging you to call back, be very careful. Some of these numbers are fake 1-900 numbers, and if you call back, you could be charged as much as $9 a minute for the call. The scammer will keep you on the line as long as possible to rack up as much profit as they can.
Another common trick is that a scammer will call, and ring once and then hand up. It’s called the one-ring scam. They are banking on the idea that your curiosity will get the best of you, and you will call back. If you do, you may lose a lot of money with one of these paid lines.
You may get a call that doesn’t use one of these scammer numbers. Fraudsters use technology to spoof caller ID information to look like local phone numbers and numbers from legitimate businesses to get you to answer the phone. Often criminals will call you from your own area code to trick you into picking up the line. Don’t; it’s a scam designed to steal money or your identity.
Many scammers record phone calls and use questions to get you to respond using the word “yes” or other phrases that will allow them to access your accounts without your knowledge. If someone calls you and says, “can you hear me?” Hang up the phone immediately and assume it was a scam call. Voice recognition software is prevalent nowadays, and with a recording of you saying “yes,” fraudsters could access your accounts and cause you a lot of grief, not to mention the loss of money.
Although these criminals are running rampant in the world, you can take steps to stay safe.
If you have been called by a scammer (and most of us have), you can easily report the scammer phone number. First, contact your phone carrier and give it to them. Many of them keep a database of spam callers to block for the future. If you received a spoofed phone call, you could report it to the FTC and the FCC. Their information is below:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
TTY: (888) 835-5322
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
TTY: (866) 653-4261
The FTC has a form on its website, making it easy to report scam phone calls and fraud if you are a victim. You may also want to contact local police or your state attorney general if you are the victim of fraud or identity theft.