A couple of times a week, I get calls from people that I think are scammers. What do you think is the best way to handle them?
If you grew up with telephones that pre-dated cell phones, you were probably taught that it is polite to always pick up the phone and answer using your name. Alongside all of the wonderful things that technological advances have brought, it has also provided a platform for scammers to contact us easily and pretend to be representatives of trusted organizations like a bank, the IRS, lottery agent, or Amazon. It can also give you an advantage over scammers. Here are some tips for dealing with scam phone calls:
- If you don't know the number, don't answer the call. Cell phones have caller ID, so if the number is not someone from your contacts, it is a good chance it is a scammer. Reject the call or let it go through to voicemail.
- If the number is local, but you don't know it, still don't answer. Scammers can spoof numbers, meaning that they can call from overseas but make it look like a local number.
- If you do feel compelled to answer, just say "hello," and don't use your name. Scammers are trying to steal your identity, and using your name gives them their first piece of information.
- If you hear a recorded message claiming to be from a trusted organization like the IRS, asking you to press 1 to talk to a representative, hang up. It is most probably a scam.
- If you do end up speaking to someone on the phone and you realize partway through that it is a scammer, just hang up. There is no benefit to you continuing a conversation with them.
If you think you have shared personal information with a scammer on the phone, read our guide on what to do to protect your information.