Scam calls have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, and they can be incredibly convincing. Scammers use a variety of tactics to trick people into giving them money or personal information.
However, there are ways to spot scam calls and protect yourself from falling victim to these scams. In this article, we’ll cover the most popular scam methods, share some real case testimonials, and provide tips and tricks for staying safe.
Popular Scam Methods
Scammers use a variety of methods to trick people over the phone. Here are some of the most popular:
- Microsoft: Tech support scammers often pretend to be representatives of Microsoft. Claiming that the victim’s computer is infected with a virus or has some other issue that needs to be fixed. They then try to convince the victim to pay for unnecessary software or services to “fix” the problem.
- Apple: Similar to Microsoft, scammers may pretend to be representatives of Apple. Claiming that the victim’s iPhone or other Apple device has been hacked or infected with malware. They may try to convince the victim to download a fake antivirus program or provide access to their device in order to “fix” the problem.
- Amazon: Scammers may pretend to be representatives of Amazon. Claiming that the victim has been charged for a fraudulent purchase or that there is an issue with their Amazon account. They may then try to convince the victim to provide personal information or login credentials to “resolve” the issue.
- Social Security Administration (SSA): Scammers may impersonate representatives of the SSA. Claiming that the victim’s Social Security number has been suspended or compromised. They may then try to convince the victim to provide personal information or pay a fee to “reactivate” their Social Security number.
- IRS: Scammers may pretend to be representatives of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Claiming that the victim owes back taxes or penalties. They may then try to convince the victim to provide personal information or pay the supposed debt with gift cards or other untraceable methods.
It’s important to note that legitimate representatives from these companies or agencies will never ask for personal information or payment over the phone or through email.
If you receive a call or email from someone claiming to be a representative of one of these companies or agencies, be sure to verify their identity before providing any information or making any payments.
Requests to Buy Gift Cards
This is the most common request from scammers to get money from the victims. No legit company representative would ever ask for someone to buy them gift cards. And still, elder people fall for these scams.
Here is a list of gift cards that scammers may ask victims to buy, along with an explanation of why they want these particular gift cards:
- iTunes gift cards: Scammers may ask victims to purchase iTunes gift cards because they can easily be redeemed for cash or used to purchase other items online.
- Amazon gift cards: Amazon gift cards are another popular option for scammers, as they can be used to purchase virtually anything on the Amazon website.
- Google Play gift cards: Scammers may ask for Google Play gift cards, as they can be used to purchase apps, movies, and other digital content from the Google Play Store.
- Visa/Mastercard gift cards: These types of gift cards are popular among scammers because they can be used like regular credit cards to make purchases or withdraw cash from ATMs.
- Steam gift cards: Steam is a popular online gaming platform, and scammers may ask for Steam gift cards to purchase games or other digital content on the platform.
- Target gift cards: Scammers may target victims with Target gift cards because they can be used to purchase a wide variety of items at Target stores or online.
In general, scammers want victims to purchase gift cards because they can be easily redeemed for cash or used to purchase goods or services online without being traced. Additionally, gift cards are often non-refundable, so once a victim has purchased a gift card and given the code to the scammer, there is little they can do to get their money back.
Real Cases Testimonials
Scam calls can happen to anyone, even people who are typically savvy about scams. Here are some real cases testimonials:
- “I received a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft. They said that my computer had a virus and offered to fix it for a fee. I fell for it and paid them, but my computer still had the virus and they had my credit card information.” – Jane, 34
- “I received a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. They said that I owed back taxes and threatened to arrest me if I didn’t pay immediately. I panicked and gave them my credit card information, but later realized it was a scam.” – Tom, 48
- “I received a call from someone claiming to be from my bank. They said that my account had been compromised and asked for my account information to fix the issue. I hung up and called my bank directly, and they confirmed that it was a scam.” – Sarah, 26
Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks for spotting scam calls:
- Don’t trust unsolicited calls: If you receive a call from someone you don’t know, be cautious. Scammers often use unsolicited calls to trick people.
- Verify the caller’s identity: If someone claims to be from a company or organization, ask for their name and contact information. You can then verify their identity independently.
- Don’t give out personal information: Never give out personal information over the phone, especially if you didn’t initiate the call.
- Hang up and call back: If you’re unsure if a call is legitimate, hang up and call the company or organization directly. This will help you avoid falling for a scam.
- Report suspicious calls: If you receive a suspicious call, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ftc.gov/complaint.
Have Some Fun After Spotting Them
Scam calls can be scary and serious, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little humor about them. Here are some lighthearted tips for dealing with scam calls:
- Pretend you’re a robot: If a scammer calls and asks for your information, respond with robotic phrases like “I cannot process that request” or “Please provide more information.” The scammer will likely get frustrated and hang up.
- Play dumb: If a scammer claims that your computer has a virus, pretend that you don’t know what a computer is. Ask questions like “Is that like a toaster?” or “Do I need to water it?”
- Have fun with it: If you’re feeling bold, try playing along with the scammer. Act interested in their offer, but give them ridiculous information instead of real personal information. For example, give them the name “Barack Obama” instead of your real name.
- Turn the tables: If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try scamming the scammer. Pretend to be interested in their offer, but ask for ridiculous things in exchange. For example, ask for a unicorn instead of a “free” product.
Famous YouTube Channels Dealing With Scammers
- Scambaiter – High-quality job exposing scammers and even infiltrating their call centers. He often saves victims when possible by notifying them about a running scam.
- Kitboga – A funny personage, impersonating usually an old woman that “falls” victim to a scam. He plays along with the scammer for hours, driving them crazy, shouting and cursing the “old woman” like she really owns them something.
- Jim Browning – Probably the most popular phone scam buster ever, Jim Browning is infiltrating and hacking scammer’s computers interrupting their operations as much as possible. He tries to save victims as well. Impressive job and great educative videos.
These are just a few examples of the many scam baiters on YouTube. While their tactics may vary, they all share a common goal of exposing scammers and raising awareness about the dangers of scams.
Here is a featured video from Jim Browning’s YouTube channel.
Scam calls are a growing problem, but by following the tips and tricks outlined in this article, you can protect yourself from falling victim to these scams. Remember to always be cautious, verify the caller’s identity, and never give out personal information over the phone.
With a little bit of humor and creativity, you can even have some fun with scam calls and turn the tables on scammers. Stay safe and stay smart!