Telephone and email scams target people using phones and computers by stealing personal information (like birth date and social security numbers) and using it to commit fraud and other illegal acts.
Sharing information online can be risky. To best protect yourself, it is wise to never share the following information online:
- Phone Numbers
- Social Security Number or Census Number
- Family Names
- Driver’s License Number
- Loan or credit card information.
Click below for answers to questions:
For more information on Telecommunications Scams and Fraud:
For more information on dealing with Unwanted Calls, Emails, and Texts:
For more information on Online Privacy & Security:
Contact your cell-phone provider about enrolling in their fraud protection services.
Telemarketing Scam Tricks & Traps
Telemarketing scams can easily trick people because the scammers will pretend to be companies we know and trust.
Usually the scammers will pretend they are an employee of a company or organization we know.
Telemarketing scammers often pretend to be:
- Banks, Credit Unions, or Mortgage Lenders
- The IRS or a local tax agency
- Insurance companies
- Utility providers
Telemarketing scams target people by their phone number. Scammers collect phone numbers, then target people by calling over and over again.
There are many ways scammers can get your phone number!
- Online giveaways that ask for your phone number to enter
- Sweepstakes entries
- Free vacations and cruise drawings
- Gaming websites and apps (even on secure sites, like Facebook)
- Online gambling sites
Protect your personal information! It can be used to target you with scams and fraud.
How to avoid telemarketing scams:
Most telemarketing scams will try to target people looking for help! Scammers use fake information and lies to convince people to trust them.
Don’t trust the information given to you.
Some of these lies include:
- Faking the area code. Scammers use computers to fake phone calls to make you think it is someone you know calling!
- Pretending they work for the government, like a tax agency or social security office.
- Pretending they are calling from a business you know, like your insurance company or cell phone provider.
- Pretending to be a charity.
How to Spot a Scam
When you are using a phone or computer, take steps to protect yourself from scams:
- Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company or website.
- Always ask for extra information, such as:
- Name of anyone you deal with
- Address and Phone Number of the Business
- Business License Number (every business has to have this in the state they are doing business)
Don’t send money to a telemarketer!
Never send money to someone over the phone, unless you know you are speaking to a real business or office.
Real businesses will understand why you don’t want to send them money over the phone, without proof of their identity.
If you are contacted by someone claiming to be collecting a payment or fee you owe:
- Request proof of the charge be mailed the address on file for your account, along with instructions on paying.
- Double check that the charge is correct, and that you owe the money.
- Read anything that is sent carefully.
If You Have Been Targeted
If you have been targeted by:
- Unwanted phone calls, texts, or emails
- Government Impersonators (calls lying about being the government)
- Phishing Scams
- Identity Theft
Contact the Federal Trade Commission:
If you do not want to be called by any telemarketers, you can register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. You can also report unwanted calls if you have a registered phone number.
Visit the National Do Not Call Registry:
Email & Internet Scams
There are two common types of scams that target people using computers:
#1: PHISHING SCAMS
“Phishing” scams (pronounced like ‘fishing’) are calls or emails pretending to be a real business that needs your sensitive information (like your password or social security number).
Real tech companies will NEVER ask you for your password or personal information over phone or email.
To protect your accounts:
- NEVER send your password via email.
- NEVER enter your password to an account on other sites (only use the official website).
- NEVER click any links or files in emails you don’t recognize or were not expecting.
#2: TECH SUPPORT SCAMS
Tech Support scams are designed to target people who need help with a computer or internet issue.
To avoid a tech support scam, here are some things you should know:
- Real companies will never contact you via phone, email, or text message to tell you there is a problem with your computer.
- Real companies will never have pop-up windows telling you to call a phone number to deal with an issue.
How to Avoid Phishing Scams
Phishing emails and texts may look like they are coming from a real company. They will pretend to be a social networking site like Facebook, a cell phone company, utility provider, or bank.
Common lies that scammers use:
- Claim to have noticed suspicious log-ins to your accounts, and ask you to review them by clicking a link.
- Tell you that there is a problem with your account.
- Tells you that you need to confirm your personal information to get something free.
- Include fake documents, like bank deposits in your name or an invoice.
- Telling you to click a link to pay a fee you owe.
- say you are owed a government refund or promise you something free.
Protecting the Information on your Phone
Your cell phone holds a lot of important information, and can be used to verify your identity.
Take these steps to protect information on your cell phone:
#1: Lock your phone with a passcode! If your phone is lost or stolen, the information will be secured by a passcode only you know. DO NOT use common passwords, such as “1234” or “0000”.
#2: Keep up with your cell phone updates! Cell phone makers send out updates to fix mistakes to make sure your information is protected. Keep up with your system updates.
#3: Back up your phone data! In case of loss or damage, make sure you have your phone information backed up. You can use iCloud, Google Drive, or DropBox to store your phones files.
#4: Make sure to have geo-location features on! In case of loss or theft, make sure you have your phone’s location feature on. On iPhones this is “Find my iPhone”. Contact your provider for information on other devices.