How to respond to a phone scam

The first time you pick up the phone and answer, the thought of having to deal with a scammer is far from you. But, don’t assume it will never happen to you. When you expect the least, a scammer may try to take advantage of you. So, besides learning how to identify a phone scam, you should also learn how to respond to a phone scam.

To stay on the safe side, it is worth being vigilant, keeping your calm even if you realize that you may be dealing with a scam. Here is what you should remember, each time you’re answering your phone, especially when you don’t recognize the caller’s ID.

  • Bear in mind that you don’t have to make any decision over the phone, no matter what. You can write down the information you’ve been provided, end the conversation, and give it some thought. At the same time, you can check the validity of the information (if the company, administration, or organization that claims to be calling you exists);
  • Don’t get alarmed, not even if the person calling you presents himself or herself as being a police officer, deputy marshall, the representative of a governmental agency, an expert of some kind, or even pretends to be someone you know. If you keep calm, it will be easier for you to tell there’s something wrong with the phone call since there will be clues raising suspicions;
  • If you’re being threatened with arrest or a large fine, for not paying your “taxes”, over the phone, remember that authorities don’t proceed this way. You won’t receive such notifications via phone calls, even if you did miss paying some taxes. Also, the police won’t call people to tell them they risk getting arrested. These are all red flags that the phone calls are scams. If you committed a felony or missed paying some debt, you will receive written notification from the competent authority;
  • Pay attention to phone calls announcing wins or “free” grants. Such calls may sound real, but if you’ll be requested to pay a “processing fee” or any other kind of fee to get the prize, then it’s a scam. Also, besides requiring a fee, the scammer may ask for your account number, social security number, and other sensitive information. Never disclose this information over the phone;
  • Even if you’re called by a person who may be familiar, avoid acting in any way besides checking if the situation is real. For instance, a so-called friend may be calling you, saying he or she has been involved in a car accident or something similar, requiring money to get out of trouble. Don’t provide any information and don’t send money at all, but hang up and try recalling the “friend” by using the number in your phone’s agenda. This way, you check if the situation is real or not;
  • When you notice you’re dealing with a scammer on the phone, just hang up. Don’t get engaged in conversations with the person. Don’t try to prove to him or her that you discovered it’s a scam. If you do this, you’ll likely be bombarded with phone calls. The scammer will try to make you fall for the scam since now he or she knows there’s a real person on the other side of the phone;
  • Access FTC’s website and file a complaint there, regarding the event you just went through. There’s a “Report Fraud” section right on the site’s homepage. Together we can fight against scammers and protect ourselves from becoming victims.

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