Although scams have evolved over the years in order to adapt to new technology, phone scams are still very much a reality today. In fact, according to a survey done by Truecaller and Harris, Americans collectively lost an astounding $17.6 million to phone scams in the past year. Breaking down to an average of just over $35 per American adult, it’s easy to see why being vigilant about phone scams is more important than ever before. Fortunately you can work towards avoiding these scams by taking into account the warning signs below.

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1. They Call You

If you receive a phone call from any company that is offering to help you, stop and consider why they are calling you in the first place. Did you contact them first, either through e-mail or a phone call? If not, then it’s likely they’re calling you in order to access your personal information. From telling you there’s a virus on your computer to discussing a “stolen credit card”, these scammers are excellent at pretending they are officials from the company they claim to work for.

2. They Ask for Personal Information

In order to access bank accounts or even your computer, the scammer will ask for personal information. While it’s common for companies to ask about certain verifying information, you must first make sure you’re talking to the company you think you are. To do so, call the company based on an official number you find on their website or any official documents provided by them. If someone calls you and provides a phone number to call back, never trust it. In many situations scam artists have special numbers set up just to make their “call centers” seem more realistic.

3. They Pressure You

Has a company called you claiming your computer is “infected”? Or are you getting pressure to give personal information in order to fix your stolen bank card? Realistically, the official company is not going to pressure you to give any sort of information. They will instead encourage you to visit their official website, look up their phone number, and give them a call. Another advantage of looking up a company online is being able to see reviews from other people, as there are many websites dedicated to pointing out scam companies and call tactics that you can use for help.

4. They Have an Incredible Offer

There are countless stories scammers use to trick people, from telling them they’ve won a free cruise to offering free flowers. However, most of these come with the stipulation of having to pay taxes or provide a credit card for incidentals. Unfortunately most people fall for this thinking it’s real and never do research online to see if the company is real. In 100% of situations where people win something, there will be no sensitive information required (such as credit card or bank accounts).

5. They Scare You

Threats are extremely common with some of the most sinister scams, such as telling people they will be arrested if they don’t pay a fee. Never trust someone who calls with a threat. Instead, do your own researching by looking up the company (or police station) online. By doing so you can get their real phone number and give them a call to determine if you were in fact being scammed. However, watch out for fake websites. If you’re being called by a company you’ve never heard of, then it’s recommended to call the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to launch a complaint and learn more information.

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