It seems like this is the time of year when your cell phone never stops ringing. Most of the calls likely come from friends and family members who either want to catch up or who are hoping to finalize holiday plans. Other calls are probably simply Robo callers that signify a sales call. The challenge some people face is that in between personal and unwanted sales calls, an occasional scam slides into your call log. Since these scams aren’t always easy to identify, it’s important to know what the current scams are so you can extract yourself from the call as quickly as possible.
These are the current crop of cell phone scams.
A Family Member Calling to Say They’re in Trouble
Calls from pseudo-family members have been around for a few years now. The way this particular cell phone scam works is a person calls and claims that they are a family member. They are upset and quickly launch into a speech about how they are in a real jam (most scammers like to say that they’ve been arrested and need immediate bail money) and need you to help them out.
This scam is effective because it plays on your emotions and instinctive desire to help out your loved one and also creates a sense of urgency so you don’t have time to think about whether you’re being scammed. Since there is a chance that it could be a loved one on the other end of the cell phone tower, your best course of action is to simply say you will call the loved one right back. Checking in with the loved one allows you to determine if they’re really in trouble or if you were just contacted by a scam artist.
The COVID-19 Scam
The COVID-19 cell phone scam hasn’t gotten as much media attention as one might expect. The way this scam works is someone calls you and insists that they are from some board of health and are in charge of collecting information for the COVID-19 vaccination program. The goal of his particular scam is to collect information from you that the caller will later use to steal your identity.
The best way to avoid being victimized by the COVID-19 phone scam is not to give the caller any information. Instead of providing a random caller with sensitive information, call your local health department directly.
Lottery cell scams have been around for a long time. They are still an effective way for a scammer to make money since they are still using this particular scam and haven’t moved on to something newer.
The way the lottery scam works is you get a call from someone who claims to be from a lotto office. They congratulate you on a recent win, getting you all excited. The scam kicks in when they say you have to pay a nominal fee to secure your winnings. Asking for that fee always indicates that you’re dealing with a cell phone scam. If you had won the lottery, all you would have to do is go to the lotto office and show them your winning ticket. Never provide anyone you don’t know with your credit/debit card information.