Bad guys take advantage of people by phone, email, text or social media. For example, during tax season the number of bad guys posing as IRS officials increases. Scammers may also claim to be from other government agencies like the Social Security Administration. Their goal is the same: to trick people into giving them money.
Here’s how to start the conversation: “Have you gotten any odd calls or emails from the IRS or another company saying you owe them money?”
Questions you can ask:
“Has anyone from tech support called you to say your computer has a virus?”
“Are you getting any odd calls where the phone rings once and stops? Do you call back to see who it was?”
Possible questions you’ll get – and suggested answers:
These calls/emails sound convincing and I don’t want to get in trouble. How do I tell if they are real?
It’s important to remember that federal government agencies and federal employees will not threaten to arrest you. They also don’t ask people to send money for prizes or unpaid loans. Also, the government and companies will not ask you to send payment on a prepaid card, especially from an unrelated company or service.
The best way to see if a call is real is to find the company or agency phone number from a trusted source, like their real website or a billing statement, and call that number to ask. Do not call back to the number that called you or the number displayed on Caller ID. That could be a fake.
What do I do if I get one of these calls or emails?
Do not engage with these callers. Hang up the phone. If it’s an email, delete it and don’t click on any links.
How can I protect myself from falling for one of these scams?
Knowing the warning signs can help protect you from these bad guys.
- Always be skeptical. Question the caller and keep your cool.
- Are they asking for immediate action? Asking for immediate action is a typical bad guy technique to scare you or confuse you into doing what they want.
- Are there spelling errors? If you spot an error, keep your guard up!
- Are they requesting personal information? Be skeptical and don’t give information if they email, phone or text you to ask for bank account information, credit card numbers, your Social Security Number or any other sensitive personal information.