It’s the holidays, or as I like to call it, scam season. At particular times of the year, individuals with nothing better to do, craft elaborate schemes to make money off the rest of us.
Phone scams are one of the most common scams because of its success.
Ring Ring, oh look, it’s an Amazon phone number.
Rep: “Hi, I’m Brian with Amazon, I’m calling to inform you of a breach in your account. Do you have a few moments?”
Nothing with the above statement seems wrong, the phone number you recognize, but then it gets weird.
You: “I have some time, what happened to my account?”
Rep: “I am very sorry about the breach to your account, Amazon is reaching to its customers to rectify this problem. At this moment, I need to verify your security settings. I’m going to send you a link, and I need you to login to your account.”
You: “Was anything charged?”
Rep: “It looks like nothing was charged through the account, but we should change your security settings as a precautionary step. Can you verify the email address you have on file?”
You: “Okay no problem.”
What is the problem here? If there was nothing charged, it is much more likely this information would come in an email.
Why did you receive a phone call? It is easier to manipulate someone’s emotions over the phone than it is in an email. We can disregard an email, but on the phone, we are much more apt to cooperate.
Let me tell you how this story played out.
You: “I just logged in, to my Amazon account and had changed the security settings.”
Rep: “Awesome, we will send you an email verifying these changes. Can I help you with anything else?”
You: “No, thank you, you’ve been extremely helpful today.”
You notice you don’t have an email from Amazon. You’re unable to login to your email account. There are also have unrecognized charges going through your bank, totaling over $600.
What is a Scam
A scam is a fraud.
A scam is an attempt to access your digital information to gain a financial advantage at your expense.
Just because you haven’t been affected by one, doesn’t dismiss them.
Check out the top scams of 2018 according to Experian.
It’s a long list.
How to Avoid a Scam
Check the phone number.
Checking the number doesn’t always work, today we have apps that can change an incoming phone number to anything the caller wants.
My suggestion, if you feel like the call is unwarranted or you are being asked to log in, through a link. Hang up. You can always reach another customer service representative if there is a problem. Preferably call the number listed on the associated business website.
What if I get an email?
Follow up with a phone call. Again check the number listed on the website.
Sometimes the email will come with a number that has no association with the business.
“Please call 1-800-SCAM.”
Granted it won’t be that obvious, but these little tips will help you avoid unnecessary fraud.
Account representatives will not reach out to you to verify your payment information.
You should never login through a link that emailed to you. It may mimic the main website with one big difference. When you log in, you compromise your information, your username and password is now available to the person on the other end.
If you use that password to access other accounts, you’ve now given your digital presence to a stranger.
Be careful, about the information you give out.
Don’t allow someone to threaten or use your emotions against you, if you feel uncomfortable, hang-up.
Never give electronic access to an unverified party. For some of us, our laptop is our business, and that’s what the scammers are hoping.
You can learn about the most recent scams from the federal trade commission, here.
Report any fraud to your banking institution, immediately. Then contact any organization where your information may have been compromised.
If you would to report a scam, you can do so using the Better Business Bureaus Scam Tracker.