Be Alert for Phone Scams

Identity thieves will use telephone calls as one of the most common tactics to steal your personal information, your money, and your credit. College students are a popular target for identity thieves seeking your financial and personal information, particularly for thieves seeking your information to secure bogus student loans.

First, let’s get some background on the facts surrounding telephone scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission, telephone scams are responsible for thousands of cases of identity theft every year. These scams use a number of tactics to convince you of their credibility. In most cases, the scammers try to convince you that they are from your financial institution, such as a bank or credit card company. A common scam is to pose as a government official, such as the IRS. They might even say they are from your school. NOVA will never make an unsolicited call to you asking for your financial information, so never fall for this trick.

The scammers might even know your first name, which makes it seem like they are legit. The will seem very friendly and talk in a manner that seems to show they are trying to help you with some issue regarding your account. But these are only lies intended to build your trust.

Another tactic involves an unsolicited call to try to sell you something, which of course requires you providing them with an electronic check, a credit card, or a debit card number. One of the most sophisticated scams involves placing an advertisement in the classified section of a newspaper, or sending you a text or email message. They might even send you to a website that appears to represent a legitimate business, but it has been created only to fool you. Never purchase anything over the telephone unless you expected a legitimate business to call you regarding a purchase. Never purchase anything from someone who sent you a spam text or email, even if the message references an existing account or legitimate business. Make sure any online purchase is from a website that can easily be identified as a legitimate business.

Phone with email iconsHere are some common strategies used by telephone con artists:

  • You’ve been selected to receive a special offer
  • You’ve been selected for this bonus if you make a purchase
  • You’ve won a prize
  • You’ve won money in a lottery
  • Here’s a great investment opportunity
  • Here’s a great charitable cause
  • You only have to pay for shipping and handling
  • You need to decide now or you’ll lose this opportunity

The consequences of telephone scams are severe. Some people have lost their entire life savings to telephone scammers. The headlines from around the country provide evidence of trusting people providing information to telephone scammers who then proceeded to liquidate their bank accounts.

For more information about ways you can protect your identity, your information, and your money from telephone scammers, check out this site.

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