They're not just happening somewhere else, these scams are being reported in our area on a regular basis. Which is the biggest phone scam, and will you fall for it?

According to a recent survey this spring by CPR Call Blocker, 89% of Americans have received at least one unwanted call from a potential or verified scammer each month.

Some 11% of those actually fell victim to some sort of scam. CPR Call Blocker is a leading company that specializes in blocking suspicious or unwanted phone calls for business and citizens, and they report the top five phone scams are as follows (from a survey of their clients and other people):

  • #1-  IRS scams, people calling to claim the victim owes money, and threatens penalties or even jail time.
  • #2- Credit/Loan Scams.  The scammer tries to convince the victim they are late on a payment, or have an old outstanding loan from years ago, and they try to collect on it.
  • #3- Lottery/Sweepstakes Scams.  The caller tries to convince the victim they've won an outrageous amount of money, and there's a 'small' fee to process the winnings. Lately, these scams have tried to seem more believable by lowering the dollar amounts the person wins.
  • #4- Banking Scams. This one has risen rapidly on the list.  Scammers try to convince the victim there's been a problem with their banking or credit union account, and try to get their account number to 'fix it.'
  • #5- Automated message scams.  Victims fall prey to automated messages that convince them to give up personal data, even Social Security numbers.

According to CPR Call Blocker, as far as the IRS goes, they will NEVER call you about any potential matter. All correspondence is done via mail.  Also, no lottery or sweepstakes program that is legit will never require any money from you to process the winnings, let alone over the phone.

Additionally, if you did have an old outstanding loan or similar issue, you would have received letters in the mail about it, and your credit rating would reflect a serious issue.

The best thing to do, say the Call Blocker folks, is to download a trusted call-blocking app on your phone, and unless  you KNOW who's calling you, don't take the call. Let it go to voice mail and investigate further later.  "When in Doubt, Don't" is a good thing to remember when getting unwanted or unfamiliar calls.

Another useful practice is to make sure you list your number on the Do Not Call registry. 

This government registry ensures telemarketers cannot legally call you if you're number is on there. And remember, the telemarketing industry won it's recent fight to allow such calls, and robocalls, to be made to cellphones. Years ago, they were exempt and off the legal list.  Now, they're allowed, largely because the number of landlines in homes is rapidly dropping.

Also remember, some scammers or 'spoofers' can mask their number to make it appear on caller ID they are the IRS or other legit agency. Just remember-they wouldn't be calling you about any such matters.

And, report any suspicious or scam phone calls to authorities with as much information about the caller as you can.

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