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Telephone Scams

Updated 06/09/2016

As with e-mails this is a very dynamic scan delivery tool with limited ability to track due to the use of IP based telephones and the original design of the US Telephone System.  This will not be an all inclusive list due to the way the Bad Guys change their tactics against people.  These people are well rehearsed, very polished professionals with their sole purpose of separating you from as much of your money as they can in a minimal amount of time.  And remember, the Federal Communications Commission's Do No Call List and those of various states are of no concern for these people.  And that's a reason to hang up.

One of the ‘hottest’ scams in the telemarketing industry these days involves companies that sell Auto-Warranties. It’s usually a robo-call. The recording starts with: “This is your final notice! The warranty on your car is about to expire…” They have no knowledge who you are or if you have a car ... it is blind mass marketing.  At the end of the recording you are connected to a live oeprator who will not provide anything in writing until you make your first payment. The experienced salesman will use high-pressure tactics rushing you into making a payment.

Collect payment for the the “extended warranties” and fail to send any paperwork, and if you file a claim, deny policy payments. 

Tracing the calls is difficult as often they originate telemarketing centers located overseas and they spoof (create a fake) caller ID information to display someone’s else’s real number.  There is only emotional value in responding to these calls with anger as you may be attacking an innocent person. Like most scams, they shut down operations and move two to three days after and change the Caller ID number.  This makes it more challenging for law enforcement to find and capture them.

A caller indicates you are the sole "winner" in the lottery as they make thousands of calls to thousands of people with the same wonderful news.

Get you to make a "small" payment (maybe shipping and handling fee, sales tax, export tarrif, etc.) for a much more valuable price just wanting to be shipped/delivered to you.  And you can be fairly certain, upon receipt of payment, they vanish into thin air.”  So don't look for any high-end expensive vehicle to be parked in your driveway anytime soon or the armored car stuffed with cash.

Offers to Lower Your Interest Rates: The calls begin with a recording that makes a tempting offer to lower your credit-card interest rates. Then you are switched to a live agent who will "help" you.

To get your credit card account number, the credit card security number, your name as it appears on the card, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, Mailing and Street Address from you which they should already.  With that your Credit Identity is destroyed as they can now drain your credit card, open new accounts, open checking or savings accounts, write fraudulent checks in your names, and open loans all in your name and your formerly good credit.

Again, tracing these scam artists is difficult: they spoof the caller ID information and use numerous VOIP accounts set up using stolen credit cards. The best thing to do is hang up, report the call to FTC and warn others through 800notes.


You are notified by an unidentified bank your card (no indication which) is being suspended and you need to call a toll-free number to activate it.

Get you to call the toll-free number, which is NOT to any bank, get your credit card account number, the credit card security number, your name as it appears on the card, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, Mailing and Street Address from you which they should already.  With that your Credit Identity is destroyed as they can now drain your credit card, open new accounts, open checking or savings accounts, write fraudulent checks in your names, and open loans all in your name and your formerly good credit.

Caller promises a consumer loan or credit card on very attractive terms.

Get you to pay a processing fee via credit card or checking account information so they can vacuum them electronically and within minutes.

Those who hesitate are sometimes offered a free laptop, iPod or any other "hot item of the week".
For your time you will be rewarded with Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) Fees at you will owe.  Check with your bank to see how expensive these can be and how many can be "stacked" on top of each other.

A simple mistake in dialing - or writing down - a phone number can be costly.  The type of con it plays into is called a "fat finger dialing" scam. Consumers make a mistake dialing a number and end up connected to someone who leads them down a rip-off path. Almost any frequently called number is likely to be a target for the "fat finger" approach. Take the national number for the Do Not Call list run by the Federal Trade Commission. The correct number is (888) 382-1222. But if you are off by just one digit, you can end up calling a number that tells you the number has been changed. The number it directs you to call will charge you $5.49 plus an "administrative recovery fee," for "a new national directory assistance service."

Secure your commitment to take a free Yellow Pages directory listing which is recorded with you saying Yes to basic information.  This recording will be "edited" to include different questions but retain your voice agreeing.

This scam targets businesses.  The caller says that he is from Yellow Pages and is calling to update their records.   They start billing the victim and only then the business owner realizes that it’s not a free listing and it was not Yellow Pages directory that called.

The victims report that when they call to complain, the company plays the recorded conversation with the victim saying 'Yes' except that the caller is reading from a completely different script. The scammers replace one side of the conversation, making it sound as if the business owner agreed to a paid listing and a monthly fee.

Scan artists posing as a charity and asking for donations.  However, the charity is either non-existent or unaware of the solicitation.

Get a commitment from you, give you a deadline to mail the payment in (sometimes in return for a small decal or other item) ideally over the telephone or by mail as a last resort.

This can range from Police Officers Death Benefit Drives to terminally ill children's funds.

Donations should be made directly to the beneficiary not to an unknown solicitor who make take 10 to 15% of the amount donated as their fee and that presumes the solicitation was legitimate.

It is not always easy to identify an international telephone number.  There are locations outside the U.S. where telephone numbers may look like domestic long-distance calls, but are actually international calls and international rates will apply.  Bridge numbers may be used to call from a foreign country to the United States and be displayed as a US toll-free number.

The Bad Guys often leave a message asking you to call what appears to be an ordinary long-distance telephone number with the incentive of a lottery prize you won, an injured relative, etc.
The game is to keep you on the phone for as long as possible as they will receive a portion of the very high telephone charges you will be billed for.

284 (British Virgin Islands)        242 (Bahamas)                      246 (Barbados)
268 (Antigua/Barbuda)             345 (Cayman Islands)            664 (Montserrat)
670 (U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands)    758 (St. Lucia)
787 (Puerto Rico)                      767 (Dominica)                     809 (Dominican Republic)
869 (St. Kitts & Nevis)               868 (Trinidad & Tobago)       876 (Jamaica)
All are Area Codes in the Caribbean.

The scam artist poses as a warehouse representative or vendor and makes contact with a targeted company.  He will say "This is (first name), I need the model number off your copier".  If the person who answers gives this info, the scammers will try to set up a shipment of toner.  Of course, the deal is so good that the offer is based on a limited supply or limited time, pressuring the employee to act fast and get their money's worth.  Upon delivery, both the employee and the company are usually in for a big surprise.  The price of the invoiced toner is 2-3 times higher than expected, and the scam artist threatens with legal fines if the company fails to pay.

Always review your monthly communications bill for optional services you never authorized such as voice mail, paging, or club membership, it's called "cramming."  This is not a common as it once was which makes it a good scam to play with so many having forgotten about it.

Trick you into making something as simple as one phone call that automatically changes the services you have to something you did not knowingly authorize.

You may be asked to return a missed call because it’s 'Your lucky day' and you’ve won a trip to Las Vegas.  When the call is made, an automated system is activated and you are unknowingly enrolled in a club or program, and the charge is placed on your phone bill.  The crammer might not even need to do anything except simply pick your phone number out of the blue and place charges on your bill through your local telephone company, claiming that you agreed to purchase some services.

Consider putting a third party block on your phone service. It's often free and it does not let any third party add charges to your phone bill.

Slamming occurs when customers have their telephone service switched to a new carrier without their permission. You may receive a call from a telemarketer asking you to switch your long distance provider. Although you say you are not interested in switching, your long distance provider is changed anyway.

Generally, the scam works like this - you receive a call where total strangers pretend to be someone else and they back up their claims with spoofed Caller ID. The scam artists might then ask for money, demand a payment, request your personal information, addresses, or banking info. People report getting calls from 'US Secretary of State', grandchildren, law firms, IRS, and government officials.

For example, in one scheme the caller identified himself as a court official and informed the victim that she is being prosecuted for failing to show up for Jury Duty. When the victim replies that this is the first time she hears that she was summoned for jury duty, the caller suggests that this may be a clerical error in the court system, and he asks for her full legal name, date of birth, and Social Security number to check the official summons files. The scam artist informs the victim that this data will be kept confidential, but it is required for cancellation of the outstanding arrest warrant.

In another variation of this scam 'government officials' call to offer a 'Government Grant': 'Because you pay your income taxes on time, you have been awarded a $12,500 government grant! To get your free grant, simply give us your checking account information, and we will deposit the grant into your bank account!'  You may receive a message like this, where the caller claims to be from a government agency or some other organization with an official sounding name. The caller might claim that you will qualify to receive a "free grant" to pay for education costs, home repairs, home business expenses, or bills. In any case, the claim is the same: your application for a grant is guaranteed to be accepted, and you'll never have to pay the money back.

Scam IRS Calls
In this scheme people receive phone calls from a caller who impersonates an IRS employee. The caller asks the taxpayer for their Social Security and bank account numbers, claiming that the IRS needs the information to complete the processing of the taxayer's payment. In another variation of the scheme, 'an IRS employee' states that the check issued by IRS has not been cashed, and the IRS is calling to verify the individual’s bank account number.
Hang up, find the official number of the organization and call to report the incident. Also, don't send money - cash, check or money order - by courier, overnight delivery or wire to anyone who insists on immediate payment.

Call Forwarding Scam
You may receive a call or message where the caller, requests you to dial a 2-digit code preceded or followed by the * or # key (such as *79 or 72#), and then another phone number to claim some prize. This procedure programs your telephone to forward your calls to another number, possibly a toll or long distance number. Scammers can then call your number, be forwarded to the number you dialed and place calls that are billed to your home telephone number.

Telemarketing Travel Fraud
These scams have many variations and often involve travel packages that sound legitimate. You get a phone call and the caller is saying that you have been selected to receive a free trip. Skilled salespeople will tell you, to be eligible for the free trip, you must join their travel club. Later, you may find another fee is required to make your reservation. In the end, you may never get your "free" trip because your reservations are never confirmed or you must pay different fees, or comply with hard-to-meet or expensive conditions.

Check out the company with your state, provincial and local consumer protection office before you buy any product or service. Also, be wary of "great deals" and free offers. Few legitimate businesses can afford to give away products and services of real value or substantially undercut other companies' prices.

Get Rich Quick Schemes
Secure an initial investment and an involvement to sell items on eBay or making sales calls.
Once the payment is made, your contact and the company offens disappears.

Scam artists lure both would-be entrepreneurs and people looking for home-based work with false promises of big earnings for little effort. 

The truth is everyone is susceptible to phone scams. Scam artists will devise a highly believable story to solicit information from their victims. That's why it is important to never give out any personal information over the phone if you are not the one who initiated the call even if that person claims to be a law enforcement official or someone from your financial institution. If you are returning a missed call, research the caller first. Also, always check to read other people's experiences with the caller. If you stay alert, you can certainly reduce your risk of falling victim to phone scams.