The other day I stupidly booked a non-refundable hotel for the wrong dates. When I tried to call the hotel to see if I could switch the dates, I used a phone number I found on Yelp. When I called this number, a man with a strong accent said he could help me. I was relieved and still anxious, and then he asked me to give him the location of the hotel. I found this strange, as I figured I was speaking to a worker at the hotel. This is when I hung up, called another number from the hotel’s website and got the whole thing worked out.
Luckily, my caution most likely saved me from a possible scam, but some don’t have the same fate. In fact, according to Market Watch, Americans, as a country, lose around $9.5 billion overall each year. On average, each victim loses $430 per scam. There are countless stories from victims saying that their trusting nature caused them a lot of financial damage. It’s a mystery how these people operate, and how they put their fake numbers on websites, but we do know that the Federal Communications Committee is trying to fight back. The technology to pull of this crime is cheap and accessible to anyone, and the motive behind scamming is the want for money – a desire almost everyone has.
Recently, the FCC “team revealed last month that they’re trying to develop technology to pinpoint where these calls are coming from so that they can shut them down.”
If you get flooded with spam phone calls, have encountered a phone scammer or just want to be safe, here are some tips from Moneyish:
1) Register with the free National Do Not Call Registry if you haven’t already, at donotcall.gov or 1-888-382-1222. This will stop the legit marketers from calling you within a month.
2) Never say “yes” when asked if you have called the right person or if you’re asked “can you hear me?” Scammers can use your words to make it sound like you agreed to give them money. Similarly, never repeat any numbers the phone scammers tell you to repeat back to them. This is very common and again, can be used against you.
3) If the caller claims to be from the FBI, IRS, Social Security or DMV, hang up. These corporations will never directly call people and ask for personal information. Also, if you simply don’t know the number or area code, don’t answer it.
4) Lastly, if you have been in contact with what you think is a scammer, check your accounts frequently to assure nothing has happened