Tis the season of the phone scammers and identity thieves. Post-holidays and pre-taxes seems to be the time that the cockroaches and rats crawl out of their cracks and spread out to attack as many unsuspecting people as they can.
Having received my annual uptick of unsolicited calls this week prompts me to share this reminder. DO NOT BECOME A VICTIM OF THEIR SCHEMES.
See if you recognize these:
#1. The caller identifies themselves (usually in accented voice) as being from “Microsoft Windows Support” and say “we are calling today because your computer us sending us error codes indicating that your computer has a virus (or that someone is trying to steal your identity)”. The irony of this one is; if you do follow their instructions that’s exactly what could happen. This is a scam! Don’t do it. Windows will not call you like that! Just hang up!
#2 Health care. A good percentage if the population has some kind of chronic health concern. So these vermin call up and say that they can get you free meters, supplies and equipment or medications because of the new government health care plans. They just need your personal information. No! No! A thousand times no! I even had one fool come right out and ask me to give them my social security number and birthdate! What?! How stupid do you think I am? This scam is identity theft with a bow on it!
#3 Debt Collector. They claim to be from some debt collector. They may even have the name of a company or medical group or hospital that you have used. They claim that you owe some amount of money and that they can take care of that amount right now by phone. They want you to give them either your checking account information to process an electronic draft or your credit card information!! GREEE GREEE GREEE! Listen to those loud alarms going off in your head.
BE SMART. RIGHT FROM THE START
There are people right now who make their living by taking your money. These cockroaches get you to believe they are helping you while all the while they are getting into the cupboard and going straight for the goodies.
They prey upon the fact that people are ignorant. Most people don’t know that our computers are running self-diagnoses quite often and these “codes” that they show you with a right click here and a double click there do not actually mean what they say they do. They are trying to get you to give the commands to your computer that will allow them remote access to your personal computer or device! Once they have you convinced that they will diagnose it for free with “just install this free download” or “click on this link”, you have just invited an army of hungry cockroaches to the feast. And they bring all kinds of worms and viruses with them.
Then the rats are those brazen enough to actually steal your identity. They can convince you that you’ve overlooked a bill that needs to be taken care of right now! Please, please think before you fall for it.
While it is true that most of us have computers, bills and maybe debt and health concerns… It is simply evil to use those cracks as thoroughfares into our personal lives!
SO WHAT DO WE DO TO PROTECT OURSELVES?
ðŸ‘KEEP A RECORDðŸ“
Time; phone number, who was speaking and what was said.
Many phones have ability to record which I have used with the statement “excuse me for interrupting, but, by law I must inform you that I am recording our conversation. Now will you please repeat that from the beginning? Thank you.”
It’s simply good advice to keep your personal information private. If a legitimate person calls you and says something like those examples above, simply get verification that they are legitimate. How? Ask them their full name and company name including spelling and a phone number where you can call them back. Lol
You can say: “thanks for bringing this to my attention. I need to research how this could have happened. I wasn’t aware of that bill; would you please mail me a copy. (they should the exact date, provider and have your address with any legitimate debt). Just ask them to read the address that your file shows and you will verify. After all THEY called you, remember.
Tell them “I do want to take care of this but must call you back later.” When they say that they will call you instead insist that you call them. Legitimate callers will provide a name, number and extension.
I once had one particularly creepy scammer actually give me a phone number. I always read back number to verify I don’t get wrong number too. When I immediately dialed the number, I spoke with some young lady visiting a condo on vacation!! The dude intentionally gave me a bogus number. The innocent lady said that she appreciated the heads up to be able to handle any future calls like mine.
âš ï¸ DO NOT GIVE OUT INFORMATION TO THEM ON THE PHONE AT THAT TIME.
No matter how URGENT their claim, or threats of legal action. They legally have to provide written notice.
Learn about the company.
Obtain a copy of their claim.
KNOW who you are speaking with!
You can start by doing a web search of the number. Just enter the number into websites such as CallerCenter.com and Whocallsme.com or just Google it. You may discover several complaints that mirror your own experience.
âš ï¸ DO NOT PUSH BUTTONS.
The caller or recording may ask you to push a certain number with the promise they won’t call you anymore. Good idea? âš ï¸ACK!! What you really just did was verify that if they call your phone number they get a real live person and not a machine.
âš ï¸ DO NOT PAY ONE PENNY UNTIL YOU HAVE PROOF THAT YOU OWE IT.
Some of these debt collectors are collecting on debts another company has already taken payment for! Pay what you owe, but good luck trying to get back money you’ve overpaid.
If someone thinks to themselves that just paying the $49 that they say I owe is easy to take care of by giving them credit card information, they may find they’ll have a whole lot more problems to deal with in trying to account for a slew of unauthorized charges or their identity being stolen.
âš ï¸ JUST BE SMART.
Although we do have legitimate dealings by phone with service providers and such. I am trying to help fight the growing amount of victimization by bringing a growing awareness of some of the schemes and ploys that are at work right now.
ðŸ’¡ TURN ON THE LIGHT! Send the vermin scurrying away and tell the exterminators. Turn on the light of truth and awareness of the schemes.
Report your experience of violators of ‘No Call List’ to your state attorney generals office, the better business bureau, FB friends and family. I have even gone so far as to contact Microsoft Windows (the company who was being false represented) via Twitter so they can put their vermin exterminators to work. They don’t take kindly to such activity.
SIMPLE STEPS WE CAN TAKE TO STOP THE CALLS & PROTECT OURSELVES.
â–¶ï¸ Join the no call list to stop unsolicited phone calls.
â–¶ï¸ Use your phone and/or phone carrier to block unsolicited callers. Be sure to find out if your carrier charges for this. It at least helps stop the repeat calls until they switch numbers.
â–¶ï¸ Screen your calls. Just don’t answer calls that your caller ID does not recognize. If it is important they will leave a message and you can call them back. No message? No call back.
â–¶ï¸ Keep yourself and others safe.
Just like we tell our kids. Don’t give personal information to strangers.
What you say can be used against you if you trust someone who says they are for you but are really just serving themselves.
â–¶ï¸ Consider enrolling in an identity protection service like Lifelock.
Did you like this post?
What experiences or tips can you add?
When it comes to these kinds of things we really can help save each other from a lot of harm.