Top Phone and Digital Scams
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Top Phone and Digital Scams

Watch out for Computer Software Service Fraud via phone or on other computer devices: You receive a call at home, usually from a strange number, and the caller will state they are Computer Software Tech Support, e.g. someone from Microsoft or Apple, stating your device has a problem. The fraudster usually asks for “access to your home computer” to show you the problem and eventually ask for your “credit card information.” Some knowledge to avoid being caught by this type of fraud:

  • Apple, Microsoft and Dell companies do not make unsolicited phone calls or email communications about security updates to fix your device.
  • The “Microsoft Lottery” does not exist.
  • Legitimate companies do not require credit card information to validate.
  • Legitimate companies will not ask for personal identification information including credit card information.

How do you handle unsolicited phone calls?

  • Ask who is calling and why. Telemarketers are required by law to tell you if it is a sales call or the name of the seller before they give their pitch. If the caller does not provide this information and you ask for it, simply say “no thanks” and disconnect.
  • What time of day is the call? Telemarketers are only allowed to call between 8 am and 9 pm.  
  • Is the caller speaking fast? A tactic fraudster’s use is to talk fast which causes you to feel pressure and to respond to their requests for giving personal information. Tell the caller to slow down or ask the caller to provide you written information before you commit to purchase.
  • When in doubt, ask for a call back number. If you feel that the call is suspicious, ask for a call back number. Then look up the company’s customer service phone number, either from a statement, phone book or online. Compare the phone numbers and then, call the customer service number you know is valid.  

Beware Phishing, SMishing, and Vishing - These scams are when a fraudster uses a phone, text and voice to try to impersonate a business (like a bank, the IRS, etc.) to obtain confidential information from you. How do you protect yourself against these types of fraudsters?  

  • Banks and other financial intermediaries will follow the laws established by the Federal Trade Commission and articulate the purpose of the call.
  • When in doubt, ask for a call back number. If you feel that the call is suspicious, ask for a call back number. Then look up the company’s customer service phone number, either from a statement, phone book or online. Compare the phone numbers and then, call the customer service number you know is valid.