Matthew Gates 9m 1,404 #phonescam
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Recognizing A Scam Caller
As I always say when you receive a scam phone call, a scam text message, or a scam email: Don’t panic. In the past, I wrote about noticing scam emails, but for this confession, I wanted to touch upon its counterpart: phone call scams. Around the world, calling scams are on the rise, with the average person receiving up to 8 calls per day. Billions of calls are made each day and the majority of them are, in fact, considered spammy or scam calls, in which a false company or person is trying to obtain information from you to steal your identity or steal money from you. These calls range anywhere from solicitations that let you know that you have won a free vacation to the IRS calling to let you know that you owe money to even the FBI letting you know that you are under investigation. Scam calls are on the rise and there is no end in sight.
We have just received a notification regarding your tax filing from the headquarters which will get expired in next twenty-four working hours and once it yet expired after that you will be taken under custody by the local copes as there are four serious allegation pressed on your name at this moment. We would request you to get back to us so that we can discuss about this case before taking any legal action against you the number to reach us is 202-459-9868. I repeat 202-459-9868. Thank you.
The message above was the transcript of a number I received on my Google Voice phone number letting me know that my tax filing has expired and that there are allegations against me, and that I must call them back to get it settled before legal action is taken against me. All of these numbers ask that you call them back and you are normally met with a live person on the other end who works for the company that is part of the scam. They may try to be as polite and professional sounding as they possibly can, but as people have discovered, their patience runs out quickly when you inform them that you know of their scheme.
Deciphering that voice call above, we can clearly see how fake it is. First of all, I have no idea what “tax filing expiring” means. If you owe money, you have a deadline to meet. If you do not owe anything, you can file at anytime you wish. In the United States, you have until April 20th to file your taxes. After that, you may face fines, but communication is done through the USPS postal system. If you go to work, you are most likely paying taxes, and that is how they have access to your home address.
A native English speaker will also never use words like, “from the headquarters which will get expired” or “We would also request you get back.” All of you English teachers are screaming at someone who would even consider speaking like that. The English in this call is just awful. Unfortunately, the actual voice call was automated, so it was a computer system, in which case, someone had typed the message who is not a native English speaker. Luckily for most of us, it is this flaw that they will never master that gives away the scam.
Another flaw is they tell me that there are four serious allegations against my name, but failed to mention what my name was even just once. They also tell me about four serious allegations, but fail to mention what any of the allegations are. Another very notable flaw is that if you have ever dealt with the IRS and had to ever contact them, you are more likely calling an office location where you live, not the official IRS building in Washington, D.C. There is an IRS building a few blocks away from where I live and I do not live in Washington, D.C. They also tell me to call them back at a 202 number, but upon navigating to the official IRS.gov website, and looking at their contact page, they only list 800, 866, or 877 numbers, with the exception of an overseas number being 267. The IRS does not have any 202 numbers, otherwise they would be listed.
Take your time before you panic and rush to take any action. It is far better for you to take no action at all. Don’t reply. Don’t call. Just ignore. However, if you are curious, do take the time to decipher the full message. You have been alive long enough to know how professional organizations communicate with you. If a message seems odd to you or you are sensing red flags, it is more than likely your instincts are correct. Don’t be fooled. Don’t get fooled. Scammers are trying anything and everything to convince you that you need to call them back and hand over your information. Just listen for the weird English and you should be fine.
If you do, however, manage to go through with it and believe their scam, they may try to obtain your credit card information, bank account information, home address, or even have you go buy a gift card in which you have to read the numbers off the back. Remind me again when a government agency or service ever asked you to go buy an X-box or Playstation gift card? Feel free to email me some gift card numbers if you have that kind of extra money! This has scam written all over it. Chances are, if anyone is calling you asking you about money, the only legit companies that can technically do that are collection agencies. Everyone else, whether it is your bank or credit card company, will likely send physical mail to your home address letting you know that you owe money and encouraging you to call so you may set up a payment plan with them.
The United States government, the FBI, the CIA, and any other government organization will, under almost any circumstances, never call you or text you. They may visit your home uninvited, but hopefully you never get to that point in your life. Usually it would mean you are involved in some terrorist-related activities or intense drug trafficking events.
Very few organizations ever call you and ask for any payment information over the phone. There are some companies, which you call directly, such as your credit card company, and you can usually make payments over the phone, but always be the one to call them. Never let them call you. If they do call you and claim to be your credit card company, let them know you will call them back and ask for an extension. Head to the website, get the main phone number, and use that extension. That is the best way for you to know if it is a real phone call or not.
DO NOT EVER GIVE ANY INFORMATION OVER TO A RANDOM PERSON. These thieves are working full-time to try and grab your identity and anything they can about you. Scamming people is big business. Scam artists have been around since the dawn of civilization and the trade is always the same: steal what they can from whoever they can. Your life will never be the same again. It is a big payout for them if they manage to steal your information. Well, for some of you, your bank accounts are probably as empty as mine, so there is not much they can do. For a few of you, as well, they might even improve your credit score. Just kidding! NEVER HAND OVER YOUR INFORMATION.
There are ways to fight back against scammers and spammers by sharing emails and information about your personal experiences. You can also stop giving out your phone number and start using virtual numbers instead to protect your privacy. The less information these companies have about you, the less information available on the Internet about anything regarding your life will definitely help. Use common sense and be smart about it. You would not just walk up to a random stranger on the street and give them information about you, so don’t do it over the phone. Just by taking these few steps to protect yourself, you can avoid anything that might harm you in the long run.