As the influence of the internet rises, so does the prevalence of online scams. Fraudsters are making all kinds of claims to trap victims online – from fake investment opportunities to online stores – and the internet allows scammers to operate from any part of the world with anonymity. The ability to spot online scams is an important skill to have.
I hope that these monthly advisories help you spot a scam before it happens. Many of the ideas for this newsletter come from residents who share their stories with us. Your story may just keep another person from falling for that same scam. That is why we want to hear from you. Send your scams, thoughts, and questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the most recent submission below from “MJ” who received a scam call but was able to spot the scam before she fell for it. Also, those annoying robocalls don’t seem to be going away anytime soon; we’ve provided some tips on how to block them in the article below. Don’t forget to call our Consumer Fraud Hotline at 720-913-9179 to report fraud.
As always, keep safe and stay well, Beth
YOUR SCAM SPOTTINGS
“I received a call that came up with caller ID as ‘City of Denver 720-xxx-xxxx. I didn’t answer but let the call go to voice mail. The call was about my vehicle warranty and that I’d been contacted several times about this issue. I deleted the message and called the number back from the caller ID and reached the Denver Animal Shelter. I thought you’d want to know how deep this car warranty stuff has gone. Spoofed big time. Signed, MJ
Dear MJ: You used excellent scam detecting practices. Because the number appeared on your phone as “unknown”, you did not answer and instead, let the call go to voice mail. While scammers used to hang up when they didn’t connect to a real person, now they frequently leave a message. So waiting to hear the message on voice mail gives you time to think through the situation and ask yourself, is this a scam? Does this make sense? Is the caller trying to instill fear or uncertainty?
Next time, we suggest you do not call the number back. There is no benefit to ‘returning a call’ to a spoofed number. If you do, there is a possibility of getting more confused about who is calling or worse case, you get connected to the scammer. If that were to happen, the scammer has another opportunity to convince you the call is real. It is best to stay away from that sort of detective work. Remember, scammers are professionals and good at their job. No matter what the hoax, the end goal is the same to separate you from your money.
As for that specific scam, check out this article from the FCC on car warranty scams, they are on the rise.
ROBO CALLS ARE NOT GOING AWAY
Nowadays, when you answer the phone, it is often a robocall scam. Scammers have many tricks up their sleeves, from posing as a member of the IRS to lying about your car’s warranty. Scammers are using more sophisticated tricks than ever before, and they don’t seem to be slowing down.
Stop RobocallsThe best way to stop robocalls is to look at your phone carrier’s resources. Each of the three major companies offer tools that you can use to identify, filter, and prevent robocalls. Some carriers require an extra monthly fee to activate these services, but network-level blocking is free of charge across all carriers. Click on the link for your carrier to find out how to block these calls.
Even if you activate the features above, you may still struggle with robocalls. So it is a good idea to join the National Do Not Call Registry list. Putting your name on the list makes it illegal for telemarketers to call you. Once you are on the list if you receive a call from an unknown number, you can assume it is a scam call. Again, letting the call go to voice mail is the best practice.
If you are on the National Do Not Call Registry, legitimate telemarketers will leave you alone, although charities, political calls, and survey-takers may still call. You may also hear from companies you have done business with or made a payment to in the last 18 months. Make sure to tell those callers to take you off their list; they must honor your request.
Try these popular apps to block robocalls: If the steps above don’t solve the problem, check out these call-blocking apps. These highly-rated apps identify the scammers reaching out and blocking malicious calls.