Phone Scam – What is it? What to do?

Phone Scam

What is it?

Phone scam is a perfidious crime because the fraudster needs its victim to cooperate to get it done. But how can that be? How is it that the victims just play along with the criminals often to loose a lot of money? What psychology is behind this?

Very often phone scammers will use our instinctive reaction to urgency and panic. Scammers know pretty well how to talk to their victims to arouse these feelings in them.

Very often fraudsters are genial even excessively friendly. They engage their victim in a conversation in which they put coercion, threats and try to create an urgency. They could say something like: “I need your PIN immediately to prevent further damage to your bank account”.

Another trick is that they try to make their victim feel very smart and as being such a smart person it will of course understand that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Examples for phone scam

Computer company calls about virus

A computer company calls you because there is a virus on your computer or there is a problem with some software installed on your computer. They will try to make you download some software which spies on you and passes credit card information to the scammers.

Unpaid bills

A person from a company calls you and tells you you have unpaid bills. Mostly the scammers choose companies which provide vital services like phone companies or providers for gas, water or electricity. Very often scammers threaten you to stop the service if you do not pay immediately. The call might reach you outside of office hours so your chance to get the call verified is small.

So how can you identify phone scam?

  • You see a missed call in you call log from a number you do not know
  • Your phone did not ring
  • Someone calls you from company X and says you owe them money. He then threatens you to stop vital services if you do not give him your credit card details
  • You get the call after office hours
  • You receive text messages from a number you do not know but which looks like a message from a friend

What to do about phone scam?

  • Keep calm and hang up
  • Don’t keep on talking because you feel that hanging up would be rude
  • Don’t pay any money – no matter what the threat
  • If you’re in doubt about the identity of the caller, try this:
    • Look up the number of the company in the official directory.
    • DO NOT just call back the number in your call log.
    • Then call the number from the directory and ask them whether they called you. This will clear up matters.
  • Do not respond to missed calls from unfamiliar numbers. If it is important, they will call again.
  • DO NOT call back numbers that start with 09. These are premium service numbers. If you call these numbers it can get very expensive.
  • Warn others via the Clever Dialer website
  • If you have installed the Clever Dialer app, block the number and rate the caller. This protects yourself and warns others.
  • DO NOT give any personal data like name, address or bank account
  • Sometimes scammers even know your name and address from data they acquired legally or illegally. DO NOT let this convince you that the caller is necessarily genuine.

Clever Dialer can protect you from phone scam

There is no thing like 100% protection but Clever Dialer comes quite close. It warns you against spam calls and phone fraud. When a call comes in Clever Dialer tells you right away whether it is a known spammer or scammer before you answer the phone. This works even if you do not have an internet connection at the time of the call.